Missed opportunities hovered over this Evergreen 1A boys soccer match at Sea Breeze Oval on Friday afternoon.
Montesano found a way to exorcise those missed chances. Hoquiam couldn’t overcome them.
After a scoreless regulation and overtime sessions, the Bulldogs stepped up with three penalty kick conversions, while the Grizzlies were stopped in a 0-0 (3-1) decision.
This is the second time Montesano celebrated a penalty-kick shootout victory over Hoquiam and it gives the Bulldogs (6-4, 6-6) a tiebreaker edge over the Grizzlies (6-4, 8-5) in the league standings.
With Elma’s loss to Tenino, the Bulldogs control their destiny — win at home Tuesday vs. Rochester and Thursday at Elma (7-4, 8-5) — for the league title.
“Personally, I think we outplayed them, especially coming away here to their place, and then penalty kicks — here we go — after regulation,” Montesano head coach Mike Malpass said. “We stuck with the players we’ve had taking the kicks, even if they’ve missed. (Goalkeeper) Jeff Varness stepped up big. He’s quite the force in goal.”
“It is hard to come off a big win against Elma and then drop a big game to Monte,” HHS head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “We’re right there, but then drop this game. It is too bad — for both sides — that this had to go to a shootout. It was a good defensive battle on both sides. We just needed to finish what we had. You can’t do that. Now we have to battle.”
As in the first shootout meeting of the season at Rottle Field, Montesano goalkeeper Varness emerged as the man of the match. The junior made his mark during regulation as well, but his exploits against the spot kicks sealed the win.
Hoquiam’s Alex PugaDeLaRosa did convert the shootout’s first penalty kick, but Monte’s Nolan Walker followed for a 1-1 start.
The Grizzlies’ Shane Murphy’s attempt was saved by Varness.
Varness took Monte’s third kick himself and beat Hoquiam goalkeeper Tahj Malone for a 3-1 lead. Varness watched Hoquiam’s Pedro Weber-Cruz hit the ball over the crossbar before his attempt.
Needing just one more save, Varness smothered Tanner Strom’s attempt to set off a Bulldog celebration and end the shootout.
Varness got some early practice in on penalty kicks when defender Oscar Hernandez tripped PugaDeLaRosa to draw a spot kick in the 60th minute. Osiel Rivera took the kick and his attempt was kept out by a diving save by Varness.
This was the second penalty kick missed in regulation. Lovell was fouled by Strom in the second minute of the match. The junior forward sent the spot kick just wide of the right post to keep the game scoreless.
Lovell had a chance to redeem himself in the 26th minute when a loose ball was popped up to him 18 yards out. From the near left side, Lovell sent a rocket shot low toward the same right post — and hit the bottom corner. The ball crossed the face of the goal before rolling out of bounds.
While Monte rued its luck, Hoquiam felt fortunate until its chances were missed in the second half.
Rivera’s spot kick was one of those chances. PugaDeLaRosa and Angel Mazariegos had a two-man breakaway behind the Monte defense in the 42nd minute. Varness came out, disrupted the play and smothered a half shot by Mazariegos to preserve the shutout.
The duo also had a give-and-go play that resulted in a PugaDeLaRosa breakaway with 75th minute, but the sophomore forward’s shot sailed over the crossbar.
In the overtime periods, both teams had half-chances, but no serious threats on goal.
On Tuesday, Montesano will host Rochester on Senior Night, while Hoquiam travels to Tenino.