Douglas boys open with a tie |

Douglas boys open with a tie

With time winding down on Wednesday, Javi Vega delivered a clutch goal as the Douglas High boys soccer team pulled out a season-opening 1-1 tie at home against McQueen.

Vega, a fourth-year varsity veteran, scored inside the final two minutes to even the score in the Northern 4A conference cross-over contest.

Vega’s goal came off an assist from Brian Cervantes.

“Better than a loss,” Vega said with a shrug. “We’re doing good … I liked how we pushed the ball and didn’t give up.”

Call it a moral victory for the Tigers, who compiled a 2-13-1 conference record last year, with five losses decided by 1-0 or 2-1 scores. Douglas only scored nine goals all season.

“Good effort today,” second-year coach Chase Zumpft told the Tigers afterward. “Way to be resilient.”

Obviously, beating a McQueen team that only won once in 2016 would have been preferable. The Tigers did show some grit after McQueen scored to take a 1-0 lead in the final minute before halftime.

“We could have won … we just stopped for a second and they scored,” Zumpft said. “Other than that, I thought we controlled the game.”

Elijah Akala took a pass from teammate Jahmeyel Blackman in front of the net for a shot that gave the Lancers their 1-0 lead.

Douglas finally got its big break at the end of the second half when Cervantes distributed the ball to Vega, who struck a grounder into the left corner of the net.

Cervantes, a third-year varsity player for Douglas, had a good opportunity of his own in the 63rd minute when he struck a shot from the left side that caromed off the far post.

“I thought it was going in,” Cervantes said. “But then it curved out.”

Defensively, Mario Meza was solid at sweeper and sophomore Camden Brown moved to the back line from his normal position in the midfield and helped the Tigers contain McQueen’s speedy forwards, Zumpft said Senior goalkeeper Dennis Gingrich also played well, including one play early in the second half when he went up in front of the net and punched away a corner kick from the right side.

Douglas (0-1-2) will face a stern test Wednesday when they visit North Valleys for a 5:15 p.m. conference cross-over contest. The Tigers tied South Tahoe on Thursday and lost 3-1 at Truckee on Friday.