If the regular season is any indication of how the Mid-Columbia Conference boys soccer playoffs is going to go down, then be ready for anything.
The Pasco and Richland boys soccer teams battled for 63 minutes Saturday at Bomber Field in Richland before a single goal was scored.
Five were scored over the next 24 minutes.
But it was Bulldogs forwards Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez and Hector Magana who came up with the big ones when their team needed them most, lifting Pasco to a 3-2 Mid-Columbia Conference win in double overtime.
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“This league is very good. Every time out you have to play properly, and you have to play well for 80 minutes,” Bulldogs coach Matt Potter said. “We’re playing better. We’ve won our last three games in overtime.”
Meraz-Rodriguez kept hope alive with his team trailing 2-1 with only a minute remaining and the center referee checking his watch for stoppage time. With the Bulldogs pressing up in the Bombers’ defensive zone, Miguel Chavez found the sophomore striker with some space on the left wing.
Before a defender could get out to him, Meraz-Rodriguez noticed that Richland goalkeeper Damian Ruiz was playing off his line and lofted a perfectly-placed shot to the back corner. The Bombers took a minute to gather themselves while Kennewick players gathered around Meraz-Rodriguez to celebrate.
“We all believe in each other,” he said. “Sometimes I’ll cross it from there, but I saw the goalkeeper come out.”
Next — in the third minute of the second overtime — came frustration when Meraz-Rodriguez got a piece of an indirect kick from midfield and tapped it to Magana, who then found himself 1-on-1 with Ruiz and buried the game-winner.
“You have to look at it like what did it to us. Why did it happen,” Richland coach Octavio DoValle said. “Then you have to break it down and understand where there’s a problem.
“Mostly, it was our inability to finish the game.”
The Bombers came into the game tied with Hanford (9-4, 8-3 MCC) for first place. But instead of holding court on their home surface, Richland suffered its third loss of the year in its own backyard.
But DoValle, who has led the Bombers to nine league titles since starting up the program in 1988 — the last one in 2011 — did not show any signs of panic.
“This league is pretty competitive. We’ll take it one step at a time,” DoValle said. “Right now we’re struggling to find ourselves.”Pasco (8-5, 8-4), put itself in a solid position to contend for another league title. The Bulldogs’ last league title came in 2009, when it went undefeated in the Columbia Basin-Big Nine.
Both teams have two games remaining before the 4A district playoffs begin on Tuesday, April 30.
Nico Reyes scored for Richland in the 64th minute, redirecting a free kick from Jonathan Larsen to put the Bombers up 1-0. But the Bulldogs answered back four minutes later when Meraz-Rodriguez dribbled into the penalty box and drew a foul on Ruiz to set up a penalty kick.
“(Ruiz) did grab my leg,” Meraz-Rodriguez said.
Chavez converted the kick to tie it at 1. The score remained tied until John Crandall made an aggressive move in the 79th minute, dribbling into the 18-yard box and drawing a foul to set up a penalty kick.
Larsen converted that kick to put Richland up 2-1 and what looked like a home victory.
“We got that PK and I thought, ‘Now we’ve got it,’ ” DoValle said. “That’s when we should have pushed harder.”
Scoring—1, R, Nico Reyes (Jonathan Larsen), 64:00; 2, P, Miguel Chavez (PK), 68:00; 3, R, Larsen (PK), 79:00; 4, P, Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez (Chavez), 80:00; 5, Hector Magana (Meraz-Rodriguez), 88:00. Shots—P 12, R 16. Saves—P, Jonathan Rosas 3. R, Damian Ruiz 6.
Kennewick 1, Chiawana 0 (SO): Keeper Henry Hernandez shook off a knee injury to make two key saves during a shootout, as the Lions held off the visiting Rivherhawks in Mid-Columbia Conference action.
Hernandez typically splits time in goal with Jose Rodriguez, but because of a knee issue for Hernandez, Kennewick used Rodriguez for all of regulation and overtime.
“To try to mix things up on Chiawana a little bit, I asked Henry if he could go,” Kennewick coach Brian Gochoel said. “He said he’d give it a try and he came up big for us.”
Hernandez stopped Chiawana shots in the third and sixth rounds of the shootout.
Scoring—Shootout goals (Kennewick 5-4)—Kennewick, Adrian Rojo, Sam Borja, Uriel Ramirez, Daniel Uribe, Anthony Arroyo. Chiawana, Cezar Leon, Carlos Gutierrez, Abdi Kafuta, Oswaldo Berumen. Shots—Chiawana 5, Kennewick 6. Saves—Chiawana, Fernando Gutierrez, 4 saves; Kennewick, Jose Rodriguez, 3
Grandview 3, Othello 1: The Huskies took a 1-0 lead on Rodrigo Zuniga’s goal in the seventh minute, but the Greyhounds scored the next three in a CWAC matchup in Grandview.
Jesus Silva, Ricardo Serrato and Martin Barrigan each scored for Grandview, which maintained its hold on first place in pursuit of its first league title since 2009.
Scoring—1, O, Rodrigo Zuniga 7:00; 2, GV, Jesus Silva 15:00; 3, GV, Ricardo Serrato (Martin Barrigan) 44:00; 4, GV, Barrigan (Samuel Cuevas) 47:00. Shots—O 5, G 9. Saves—O, Angel Rangel 6. G, Elmer Campuzano 4.
Wahluke 1, Mabton 0 (SO): Julio Maldanado, Miguel Ramirez and Ramon Bravo all scored in the shootout and keeper Alan Caro made two big saves to lift Wahluke (7-5) to an SCAC win over Mabton in Mattawa.
Caro stopped Daniel Cambron and Mauricio Talominos on Mabton’s final two attempts in the shootout to end the game.
“Alan came up huge,” Warriors coach Arthur De Victoria said. “He got the game ball and he accepted it this time. He did really well.”
The game, played in extremely windy conditions, was scoreless through regulation and overtime, but not for lack of effort, as the teams combined for 31 shots on goal.
“It was a game of two halves. If you had the wind at your back you were doing well,” De Victoria said. “We had 17 shots in the second half. We both shot into the wind in the shootout.”
Shootout goals (Wahluke 3, Mabton 1)—W, Julio Maldanado G, Miguel Ramirez G, Ramon Bravo G. M, Crisantos G, Sanchez NG, Daniel Cambron NG, Mauricio Talominos NG. Shots—M 11, W 20. Saves—M, Edgar Cisneros 11. W, Alan Caro 8.