South Tama County's boys soccer team rallied from a 2-0 halftime deficit to defeat rival Grinnell in a postseason overtime game Tuesday.
The Trojans victory avenged a loss to the Tigers just five days earlier. On May 16, STC played at Grinnell and lost 5-0. However, on Tuesday, they got the best of their rival when the pressure was on and the winner went home with its season over.
South Tama's starting goalkeeper Luis Perez left the field injured during the first meeting at Grinnell. But that was the last game of a regular season and now the Trojans are in the playoffs.
The Trojans stepped on the field without four starters. Aside from Luis Perez, usual center-backs Tony Cervantes and Daniel Alves and ever important for the team performance Cesar Rivera-Nunez have been missing. Junior varsity players David Bennett, Victor Chavez and Santiago Villafana had to step into the varsity shoes once again. The goalkeeper responsibilities had been taken by senior Eric Luna. The complete starting lineup included Luna, Wyatt Beltz, Fernando Galves, Alex Martinez, J.J. Angel, James Lares, Santiago Villafana, Victor Chavez, Jerry Lowe, Jose Alcazar and Adrian Castanon.
In the first half the Tigers applied certain pressure on Eric Luna's goal, taking several long range shots and shooting six corner kicks. Nonetheless, in the eye of the coaching staff, the Trojans fulfilled their tasks, maintaining the balance of the game and making every play extremely difficult for the host team.
Every counter-attack by Adrian Castanon and Jose Alcazar was meaningful and sharp. Placed in unusual defensive roles Alex Martinez and Jerry Lowe, performed well. David Bennett, who had been charged with virtually impossible task of containing fast running and strong hitting Grinnell's left wing Seth Signs, was working hard and ultimately succeeded. Yet the rest of the JV players needed more time to get accustomed to the level of the game.
Grinnell scored the first goal after a break-through on the right wing and a dribbling slalom in the penalty area by Ahmed Noman. Eric Luna was not able to stop a point-blank shot, as he was not able to prevent the deflection from the back of Ahmed Noman, who sent the ball to South Tama's net again later in the half, after a desperate shot from Josiah O'Polka. Grinnell led 2-0 at halftime.
The score suggested that the game was over, but that was the wrong impression. In fact, the Trojans managed to find the rhythm of their own game at the end of the first half. That allowed Alex Martinez and Jerry Lowe to move toward more attacking positions. Victor Chavez substituted Eric Luna, who in his turn, covered the role of a defensive midfield.
Once the second half started, it was easy to see that Tigers were getting more and more frustrated, with the fact that Trojans did not give up. Frustration grew even further, when Jerry Lowe stroke on goal after a cross from Adrian Castanon, and the ball floated over the outstretched hands of the goalkeeper and the head of Hunter Holland into the net. Grinnell still led 2-1.
At the end, the Tigers were not able to withstand the heat of the moment. Constant verbal pressure on the referee, which had been applied by some of the Grinnell players, resolved into a full-scale argument between the referee and the leading forward of Grinnell, Kenny Clark. He had been given a yellow card for arguments, escorted from the field to cool down, but in vain, the second yellow card had been presented to him while already on the bench. From that point (12 minutes to go and a score 2-1), the Trojans never stopped.
Jose Alcazar and Alex Martinez played the short combination on the right wing and a cross found Adrian Castanon in the penalty area for an equalizer. With six minutes to go, South Tama seemed to control the flow. Jerry Lowe and Eric Luna had their chances after a cutting passes from Alex Martinez, but the first one had been found offside and the second one was not able to connect with the ball.
Defensive players, especially Fernando Galvez, Juan Jesus Angel, Santiago Villafana and James Lares were playing with confidence and did not allow Tigers to create any more moments near South Tama's goal. Victor Chavez touched the ball several times, but did not record any saves.
Overtime was played in the same manner as the end of the game. Grinnell leader Ahmed Noman tried to steal the game by himself, but the Trojans' team work prevailed. With about a minute before the end of the first overtime, a cutting pass from Alex Martinez found an unmarked Jerry Lowe , who calmly converted the space and time that he had been given, into a scoring opportunity and connected for a Golden Goal. His goal gave STC a 3-2 victory over Grinnell.
"The coaching staff wants to thank every Trojan player who took field in Ahrens park this Tuesday," coach Dima Shklyarov said. "That includes every substitution player who had been available for a game and both managers. Those students are Eric Luna, Hunter Holland, Wyatt Beltz, Juan Jesus Angel, Fernando Galvez, Santiago Villafana, Victor Chavez, James Lares, David Bennett, Jose Alcazar, Alex Martinez, Jerry Lowe, Adrian Castanon, Marc Maldonado, Jesus Veliz, Marilyn Anaya and Lia Murillo."