Douglas soccer wins a thriller against Galena

Except for a slight change in scenery, Saturday morning looked extraordinarily similar to last year's first round of the Northern 4A Regional soccer playoffs for the Douglas High soccer team.

There they were, every Tiger sporting a freshly-shaven mohawk, facing the higher-seeded Galena Grizzlies once again - except this time it was on the Grizzlies' home field.

It took 110 minutes of hard-fought soccer and an intense shootout to decide it, but in the end the outcome remained the same.

The third-seeded Tigers upset Galena 5-4 in penalty kicks after the teams battled to a 1-1 tie through an incredible double-overtime match, marking the second year in a row Douglas sent Galena home in the first round.

"What more can you ask for?" Douglas coach Milko Vasquez said. "I was just having fun by the second half. They believed in themselves and won this one on guts and heart alone."

Galena held the edge in possession through the first half, but Douglas' size proved invaluable as the game took on a physical nature from the outset.

Dan Hedrick took a long clear in the 37th minute and put the Grizzlies up 1-0 on a sharp shot that beat Douglas goalie Chris Aguilar to the far left post.

Less than 45 seconds later, Douglas' Michael Barnes gathered in a rebound that beat Galena keeper Brad Bozzet and punched it in for the equalizer.

That one-minute frame accounted for all of the scoring in the epic battle.

Not to say that there weren't plenty of fireworks throughout.

Douglas had six players go down with varying degrees of injuries in the contest, the most notable of which was when Tiger defender Justin Norvell and Galena's Nick Carew collided on a challenge in the air, sharply knocking their heads together.

Carew was immediately able to leave under his own power and returned to the game later on with his head heavily bandaged, but Norvell spent about 10 minutes on the ground before leaving the field under his own power. He was taken to receive further medical care from there.

"We had so many guys go down today," Vasquez said. "It just goes to show you, that's why you keep 18 guys on the roster. A lot of the guys out there at the end, that's why we've had them on the roster, in order to step up and fill in for us in big situations like today."

Among the reserves who stepped up and had big contributions for the Tigers late in the game were freshman Brian Jaggard, Geoff Rahe, Ray Kaffer, Jose Alcaraz and Oscar Gonzalez.

"This is not just about today, it's about the future," Vasquez said. "We have some guys who have not had a lot of playing time, but this was big today.

"Sometimes you can't even get that kind of experience in real life, much less in sports."

Douglas created the majority of the scoring opportunities through the second half, but the teams traded shots in the two overtime periods.

In the penalty kicks, Galena's Chris Ewol beat Aguilar with a shot on the ground to the right, but was yellow-carded after running up to Aguilar and taunting him.

Douglas' David Sturgess evened up the score with a rocket on the ground that beat Bozzet to the right.

Galena's Enrique Martinez got the lead back for the Grizzlies on a nice off-speed shot to the left.

Douglas' Eddie Vegas knotted it back up with a pretty shot in the air to the top right corner.

Galena missed its next kick just above the crossbar and Douglas' Mike Gransbery made it hurt, blistering a shot just inside the right post.

Carew tied things back up for Galena with a shot to the left, but Justin Grimm put Douglas back out in front with a shot to the right corner.

Hedrick scored to Aguilar's left in the air to wrap up Galena's shooting, but Martin Rubio, who has been the Tigers' top penalty shooter, sealed the game on the final shot.

He struck it nicely to the right, but Bozzet got a tremendous jump on it and managed to partially deflect the shot with his fingertips. The ball glanced off his hand, off the right post and into the net.

Douglas had a spectacular game defensively from Aguilar, who stopped a barrage of Galena shots throughout, Norvell, Grimm, Kenny Jones, Kyle Mannschreck, Travis Goldade, Rubio and Alcaraz.

Douglas advances to play at 6 p.m. Thursday afternoon at Carson High.


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