Sea Breeze Oval lived up to its name on Tuesday afternoon — hard wind, rain and cold — to make this Evergreen 1A boys soccer match for Hoquiam and Montesano an adventure.
The Grizzlies enjoyed the ride just a bit more than the Bulldogs.
HHS forward Alex PugaDeLaRosa scored out of a scrum of players in the 23rd minute for what turned into a 1-0 win over the Bulldogs.
The vast majority of the match featured two teams trying to impose their style of soccer in conditions better suited for rain forest exploration.
“We finally put one away, held on to one in the end,” Hoquiam head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “I’m glad that we got a win under our belts. It is nice to be able to get the lead and hold onto it, protect it.”
“Up until the last 30 minutes, we were in control,” Montesano head coach Mike Malpass said. “I’m going to try and figure out what’s going on. We had a good showing against Aberdeen over the weekend and we matched (Hoquiam) in this game — except scoring.”
Domination in the match can easily be tracked by which team had the wind at its back — Montesano (1-1, 2-2) in the first half, while Hoquiam (1-1, 1-2) in the second half — toward the north end of the field. This made all of the difference.
In one of the very few runs against the wind, the Grizzlies got a chance for a long throw-in by senior defender Brenner Carlstrom. His throw hung up in the wind, but settled inside the heart of Monte’s penalty area.
With six players kicking at the ball and the mud, play didn’t break out until senior midfielder Osiel Rivera slid the ball out to PugaDeLaRosa in the clear. The sophomore gathered the ball in and fired a low, skipping shot from the left past Monte goalkeeper Jeff Varness into the right-side netting in the 23rd minute.
“We got lucky with the wind in the second half,” Sanchez added. “If there was no wind, Montesano would have been more effective today. Both teams battled through it. I guess that’s home-field advantage.”
Montesano had the run of the field in the first half, pinning Hoquiam back into its defensive zone. Most of the attacks had to come from the wings, due to large puddles and divots in the mud in the middle of the field. Players lost footing and control of the ball once the flow of the game gravitated into the middle of the field.
The Bulldog attack bogged down inside the Grizzly penalty area. Junior Brandon Lovell and sophomore Kylar Prante had their chances, but couldn’t strike an equalizer.
“I’m definitely disappointed,” Malpass said. “We have several goal scorers and didn’t create enough chances. We gave the other team too much time on the ball. No one was controlling the ball in these conditions, but they controlled the ball more.”
Following halftime, Hoquiam began attacking the north end and kept Montesano pinned back. Some Monte counterattacks did threaten the shutout.
Prante and Lovell nearly beat HHS goalkeeper Tahj Malone, with the wind playing a part in knocking down the shots. On the other end, PugaDeLaRosa, senior Angel Mazariegos, senior Ivan Salguero and Rivera each had shot go just wide or smothered by Varness.
Late in the match, Hoquiam nearly made it 2-0 with saved shots from PugaDeLaRosa and Salguero. Montesano had one last chance when a deep crossing pass navigated through Malone’s goalie box, but no one could catch up to it for the equalizer.
Malpass cited his defensive unit — Varness and defenders Nicholas Prosch, Nolan Walker, Dakota Jefferson and Oscar Hernandez — for their efforts.
In the junior varsity match, Hoquiam and Montesano tied at 2-2.
On Thursday, Hoquiam travels to Tenino, while Montesano stays home to greet Rochester.