East Aurora advances on penalties
Updated: October 1, 2011 9:28PM
It’s fair to say East Aurora’s boys soccer team had a very long, but great Saturday.
In the morning the Tomcats managed to keep an unbeaten streak going despite a 4-4 draw at Oswego East, then it took 100 minutes plus a penalty kick shootout to edge Lemont in a late-season tune-up that doubled as the championship of the 2011 Lemont Cup, plus the entire team earned a free pass to Saturday night’s Homecoming Dance.
When East Aurora coach Jason Rollins and Lemont counterpart Rick Prangen agreed to a late-season meeting to help both squads prepare for the post-season, neither knew they’d be able to add extra incentive for the outcome. In a tournament that began the last week in August and had its September finale ruined by weather, the agreement was the victor of the match would get to have the 2011 tournament plaque.
When regulation time ended in a 0-0 draw and two 10-minute overtime sessions failed to break the deadlock, East Aurora pulled off the 1-0 triumph via a 4-3 penalty kick shootout which led to the Tomcats dancing on the field at Lemont – a tune-up for the six players who had purchased tickets for the dance knowing they’d be arriving late to that affair. Dance organizers told the team if they won, they’d get free passes, which meant those who had purchased tickets were entitled to refunds.
East Aurora goalie Osvaldo Mata earned his squad’s game MVP accolade after he came up big blocking the second and fourth attempts by Lemont. With the Tomcats winning the coin flip, the hosts went first and converted the initial attempt only to Luis Reyna match it. After Mata dove to his left to stop Lemont’s second try, goalkeeper Andrew Putna dragged his foot for a save.
Victor Corral had the equalizer for East in round three and then Mata got a one-hand save on Lemont’s fourth try. That’s when Abraham Kanneh gave the Tomcats an advantage. While the hosts made their fifth try, David Reynoso parked his try inside the right post.
“I always make up mind which way I’m going based on some little things I look for from the shooter,” Mata explained. “Saves are always good, but especially in this kind of game when the shooter has the advantage, it’s the icing on the cake and more for a goalie.”
“Obviously I’m really proud of our goalie, but the whole team played well even though it was pretty obvious our legs were heavy at the end,” Rollins admitted. “As long a day as it was, this was a great experience for us in terms of the post-season. We had consecutive tests against good teams, we had the pressure of a shootout, it helps get us into a playoff mindset.”
Having gone 5-0-1 for their last six matches, East Aurora sports a 12-3-2 overall record and will put a 4-0-0 Upstate Eight Conference River Division mark on the line in Tuesday’s league contest at Lake Park. The PK shootout gives Lemont a 13-3-1 season record.
“It was a great game, a playoff atmosphere and both teams battled hard,” Lemont’s Prangen said. “As a team, I thought our defense did a great job overall and Nick (Tiedt) defended their No. 6 (Kanneh) well. Putna made some really good saves for us, it just wasn’t the outcome we wanted.”
Oswego East (10-3-3) jumped out to a 2-0 lead within the opening eight minutes starting with Ryan Murphy’s goal at 4:41. Jason Evans’ corner kick was headed in by Murphy from five yards out for the opening strike and three minutes later, Jorge Alvarez’s through ball had East Aurora keeper Osvalo Mata racing out only to have the ball bounce in favor of Jelani Pieters, who finished into an empty net for his 12th goal of the season.
The Tomcats cut the deficit in half with 14:27 left before halftime when Juan Luis Perez set up Angel Diaz for a six-yard header placed just right over an out-rushing Dakota Bruns. Just over five minutes into the second half, Perez earned another assist as Angel Barajas tapped in a four-yarder by the left post.
“Falling behind 2-0 it was important to answer so that we keep this latest win streak going,” Perez noted. “On the first one I saw him open for the header and on the second I just wanted to place it for an easy on-touch volley.”
Almost as easily as the Tomcats rallied, they gained the lead two minutes later when Barajas fed the ball to Franky Ortiz for a 16-yard rocket that became his fourth goal of the year.
“I started a run up field and checked to Angel, who gave me a good return ball and I just did my best to blast it home,” Ortiz explained.
When East Aurora was whistled for a shove inside its box, Jorge Alvarez converted the penalty kick with 17:49 remaining for a 3-3 tie. That lasted seven minutes until Tomcat scoring leader Abraham Kanneh blasted in an unassisted 18-yarder.
But with 3:35 left in regulation, Jorge Alvarez used a Nate Paisley pass to create the final deadlock. With his two goals, Alvarez added the Oswego East single-season scoring record to his resume with goals No. 27 and 28. He already owns the Wolves’ career goal standard and his five hat tricks this year are another OEHS hallmark.
“Nate was going for the header and drew the keeper, so I saw the right corner was open and just put it away,” Alvarez said. “It’s not a loss, but having a 2-0 lead it’s still disappointing that we didn’t finish with a victory.”
“I really would’ve prefered the win,” Oswego East coach Steve Szymanski admitted. “But coming from behind hasn’t been a strength of ours, so to come back twice for equalizers is a positive. While I certainly believe we could’ve played better, they’re a very good team with 20 guys that play real hard.”