Warriors shake off deficit, win in OT
Two-goal deficits are next to impossible to overcome against a good soccer team.
But it’s not impossible, which Central High School demonstrated Thursday in its season-opening boys soccer game against Eagle Valley.
Rather than bow to frustration after falling behind 2-0 midway through the first half, the Warriors got determined. It helped, too, that they had a finisher like senior Matt Miller, who scored all three goals to lift Central to a 3-2 overtime victory.
“We’ve been training hard since the last week of July,” Central coach Doug Beach said. “These boys have a never-say-die attitude. That’s something you can’t teach.”
Eagle Valley had the momentum early as Oscar Serna scored twice, in the 15th and 20th minutes.
The Warriors cut that deficit to one goal before the half, though, as Miller lined a penalty kick low into the right corner in the 32nd minute.
At halftime, Beach reminded his players the game was there for them to take.
“We told them we had to start playing our game and not their kick-and-run,” Beach said. “We talked about heart. We talked about character. ... A little spark, and the fire just grew.”
About 10 minutes into the second half, Central’s Colton Lowery directed the ball from the middle of the box to the left side, where Miller was waiting. Miller tucked a low shot inside the near post to tie the game.
The Devils had more scoring opportunities the rest of the way, but their shots either went wide of a post, over the crossbar, or Central goalkeeper Lorenzo Archuleta stopped them. Archuleta finished with nine saves.
Central had one great opportunity to score midway through the second half. Again, it was Miller, and he wanted to kick himself for not converting. He received the ball near the left post but shanked his shot to the left.
“I was pretty upset,” he said, “but I just shook it off and tried to get it back.”
In the third minute of the five-minute overtime, Miller made amends for his miss.
Sophomore midfielder Eduardo Cardenas sent a long pass from the middle of the field toward the left side of the Devils’ goal, and Miller timed his arrival perfectly.
He dribbled a few steps and fired a hard shot that went untouched by the goalie.
Miller praised Cardenas for a beautiful pass and said he read the defenders and his teammates as he dribbled and gauged the goalie’s position.
“He gave up his near post, so I decided to take the chance,” he said.
Beach called the game a feel-good win and added, “You can’t ask for more.”
Miller said the comeback didn’t surprise him, because he knows how hard he and his teammates trained for this season.
“This win really helps out,” he said. “We lost a lot of seniors, and people don’t think we’re going to be as good, but I think we’re going to surprise some people.”