Columbia High's boys soccer team didn't grow complacent over spring break.
After their weeklong vacation from competition, the Bruins (9-0) got back to business April 10 with their second shootout victory of the season over the rival Stevenson Bulldogs, then followed up last Friday at Rochester with their fifth shutout.
The win at Rochester was big in that it helped Columbia mount a two-win lead over La Center and Montesano (both 7-2) in the nine-team SWW 1A League, with just under three weeks remaining in the regular season.
Coming up for the Bruins is a pivotal overnight weekend road trip--to Montesano on Friday, Forks on Saturday.
Columbia has yet to face Montesano (the rematch will be played here on May 3). But in its first meeting with Forks here on March 24, CHS scored late to eke out a 1-0 victory.
Last week against Stevenson, Columbia won its third shootout of the year, 3-1, on penalty kicks by Martin Mendoza, Chuy Ramos and Ramon Cortez.
"Going into the shootout, I felt confident we'd come out on top again," Bruins Coach Peter Knowles said, "but I had no idea it would look so much like the last time we played Stevenson."
After CHS goalkeeper Carlos Mendoza stopped Stevenson leading scorer Mark Kilpatrick's second PK of the match in the shootout, however, Knowles had a Tom Hanks in "A League of Their Own" moment. (Manager Jimmy Dugan, to himself, after his star player shows up for the finale of the league's inaugural championship series finale: "We're gonna win!")
"I didn't expect Carlos to stop Kilpatrick's shot, but when he did, I knew all we had to do was have our shooters come through for us, and they did," Knowles said.
Mendoza followed that save up by forcing a miss and recording a save on Stevenson's final two PK attempts.
Toward the end of regulation, Mendoza came up big for the first time when he stopped a Kilpatrick PK with the score deadlocked at 1-1.
"Carlos read the shot so well, and moved so quickly that he almost made the save easy," Knowles noted. "His stop not only kept us even with less than 10 minutes to go, it sparked us a bit, and we had the best chances from then on."
Down the stretch, though, Stevenson goalkeeper Sten Thompson matched Mendoza's efforts in goal, preserving the tie through the end of regulation and then in overtime.
The only non-shootout goals of the match came in the first half: in the 21st minute, by CHS's Cheno Barajas, on a penalty kick; and by Stevenson's Jereth Robinson in the 39th minute.
Columbia High 3, at Rochester 0:
The Bruins overcame a sluggish start to win their rematch with the Warriors.
Shanti Gosman scored off a corner kick by Miguel Lujano in the 37th minute to stake Columbia to a 1-0 advantage.
It remained that way until Miguel Ramirez knocked in CHS's second goal in the 64th minute.
Cheno Barajas capped the scoring seven minutes later with an unassisted effort--one of 10 shots the Bruins put on goal.
Rochester finished with two shots on goal (and three shots total). Its biggest miss occurred midway through the first half, when a shot that had goalkeeper Carlos Mendoza beaten "thankfully ran wide of the goal, with no attacker running on to finish the shot," Bruins Coach Peter Knowles said.
The Warriors' best opportunity to score was "an early sign that we were having a lot more trouble getting our attack going than we'd anticipated," he noted. "As usual, though, our defense and goalkeeping held up for us while we found our attack."
Standouts for CHS included center midfielders Barajas and Jose Castaneda; outside defenders Ramon Cortez and Louy Lerebourg; and outside midfielders Lujano, Edgar Ceballos, Javier Ortiz and Miguel Ramirez.
"Our second and third goals came from all the pressure" CHS put on Rochester's defense, Knowles said.
"We had a few more opportunities to score, but missed the net on some very nice chances," he observed, adding, "This game those missed opportunities didn't come back to haunt us, though in some games they certainly could. We'll be working on getting better finishing our attacks so we make the most of our chances as we move through the rest of the season."