It's a part of the game, assured Ashland High boys soccer coach Eisa Tiaa Tutu afterwards, shaking his head. And he meant it, too, because this time it was a big part. The deciding part.
Tias Fitzpatrick headed in an own goal while trying to clear the ball in overtime and second-ranked Cleveland held on from there for a 2-1 victory over fourth-ranked Ashland in the Class 5A state quarterfinals at the Cleveland High field.
On the decisive play, Cleveland midfielder Patrick DeYoung was awarded an indirect kick near the left sideline, 40 yards out. His line drive sliced to the far post, where Fitzpatrick, looking into the sun, was in position to defend.
"Our keeper (Wes Overland) called 'Away' and Tias tried to head it out and he just hit it wrong," said Ashland defender Rafael Gonzales, one of six Grizz seniors.
The ball skidded back to the near post and into the back of the net, setting off a wild celebration by the still undefeated Warriors (16-0-0).
With five minutes to go in the first of two 10-minute overtime sessions Ashland still had a chance to send the game to a shootout. But the Grizzlies (11-3-2) could only muster two more shots on goal the rest of the way, and neither were all that close to beating Cleveland keeper Brad Eckerson.
"We've all seen it happen to the best teams, but we'll take it," Cleveland coach Scott Killen said.
The frustrating finish could have been avoided had the Grizzlies converted one of several great scoring opportunities that went awry in the first half, when they outshot the Warriors 8-6, including 6-3 on goal. The nearest of the near-misses occurred just minutes into the game, when Alex Murray booted a perfect corner kick to Nate Roupp, who headed the ball past Eckerson. A Cleveland defender was waiting under the crossbar, however, and headed the ball out to keep the game scoreless.
"We played our heart out, had our opportunity in the first half &
that was supposed to be the way," Tiaa Tutu said. "We couldn't do it, and when you miss an opportunity to end a game, it'll hunt you later, and that's exactly what happened."
Cleveland took the lead with 31:05 left in the game on a goal by Evan Keny-Guyer, who took a pass from Granit Hoxha in the box before spinning around and shooting.
The Grizzlies tied the match with 10 minutes to go on an incredible strike by Murray, another senior. The crafty midfielder dribbled the ball into an opening at about the 30-yard line left of center and sent a rocket that pierced the upper right corner of the goal.
Moments later Ashland nearly took the lead, but Eckerson saved a hard, close shot by Kelby Kemske.
"I kind of feel we never played our game," said Murray, who first made a splash as a goal-scoring freshman during Ashland's run to the big-school semifinals three years ago. "We wanted to possess the ball and our idea is if they don't have the ball they can't score. We didn't do any of that this game."
Right before overtime, Ashland senior midfielder Reid Honeywell went down with an injury to his right shin and the game was delayed about 15 minutes as the teams waited for an ambulance. His condition was unknown at press time.
Cleveland next travels to Mountain View for a semifinal match Tuesday. The winner of that match will play either Bend or Glencoe in the finals, Saturday at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
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Own goal, missed chances cost Grizz in QF loss