By: Aaron Poling
EGELSTON TOWNSHIP – The Oakridge soccer team is on the cusp of doing something it’s never done before – winning a distinct championship.
But advancing to the Division 3 district title game was definitely not easy for the Eagles. They trailed Montague until late in their semifinal contest on Tuesday night, then managed to score the game-tying goal as the clock ticked down in regulation.
Then Victor Contreras finally settled with issue by scoring with 1:20 left in the second overtime, giving Oakridge a dramatic 2-1 victory and a berth in the district championship game.
Oakridge, now 7-2-3 this season, will play Tri-County on Saturday at noon in the title game. That contest will be on the Eagles’ home field.
Montague finished the season with a 11-5-1 mark.
“For me it’s about pushing this team to the next level,” said Oakridge Coach Greg Fleener. “We are capable of playing at a very high level,”
The first half was scoreless, then Montague finally broke the ice about eight minutes into the second half. A cross was sent across the box, and Oakridge keeper Spencer Anderson made a save, but it rebounded to the foot of Pablo Alfonso-Viguria, who buried the ball into the net.
One turning point in the game came with 7:40 left in regulation, when Montague nearly took a two-goal lead, but Anderson dove to make an impressive save and corralled the rebound, leaving the score 1-0.
Time nearly expired on the Eagles and their season, but some last-minute heroics forced a tie and sent the game to overtime,
The Eagles’ Gavan Bignall sent a left-footed cross through the box on a corner kick. The ball found Ben Cooper, who headed it into the right corner of the net with just 1:43 left, making the score 1-1 and giving Oakridge new life,
“We’ve had this set play for corner kicks for a long time,” Bignall said. “It never worked before, but I managed to float it over their big guy’s head.”
“I saw the corner and had the opportunity,” Cooper said about his goal. “I knew if I got behind the ball it would go over the defense and into the corner.”
The first 10-minute overtime period was scoreless, and the second one almost ended the same way, but Contreras managed to score off a corner kick and nail down the victory with 1:20 left on the clock.
The goal came during a goalmouth scramble for control. The ball bounced to Contreras, who fired it into the right corner of the net to give Oakrige its come-from-behind win.
“Everyone was bunching up, so I took a step back, hoping the ball would come toward me, and it did,” Contreras said.
Montague outshot Oakridge 10-9. Anderson made nine saves for the Eagles while goalkeeper Ian Degan made eight for Montague.
Please check the spelling of people’s names. Butchered Gavan Bignall’s first and last name.
WAY TO GO EAGLES ????!!
Good luck ???? Saturday!!