The Southwestern Oregon Community College men’s soccer team is in the NWAC quarterfinals for the second year in a row after the Lakers beat Whatcom 2-1 on a golden goal by Chino Mez 10 minutes into overtime Wednesday.
The Lakers, who finished third in the NWAC South Region, which put them on the road for the regional round, next faces West Region champion Tacoma, the top-ranked team in the coaches poll, in the quarterfinals Saturday.
“Every team in the tournament is dangerous and could win it all,” SWOCC coach Brad Williams said. “We showed that tonight.”
Whatcom was fourth in the coaches poll and second in the North Region.
“Whatcom was very good tonight,” Williams said. “I have a lot of respect for them and how they’re coached.”
But the Lakers more than matched up with the Orcas, who lost in the final the past two years.
“Our effort and desire was great for the full 100 minutes,” Williams said.
The Lakers got a great effort by goalkeeper Vince Goelst on a night when Whatcom outshot SWOCC 16-7 for the match.
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“Vince made several saves that really held us in the game,” Williams said.
The match was scoreless into the 70th minute, when the Lakers got on the scoreboard when Kodai Kobayashi sent a crossing pass into the box and Ivan Jimenez sent a rocket at Whatcom goalie Michael Herrera, who blocked the first shot, but couldn’t stop a rebound shot by Jimenez.
The Orcas evened the score in the 73rd minute on a goal by Kevin Giessler, setting up overtime.
The teams were 10 minutes into the extra session when Alejandro Garcia played a long free kick into the box and Dylan Krufal jumped up and headed the ball, flicking it to Mez, who knocked in the game-winner with his left foot.
The Lakers stayed in Washington given the quick turnaround for Saturday’s match at Tacoma, which won the West Region with a perfect 12-0-0 record and is 15-0-1 on the season.
Last year, the Lakers hosted Tacoma in the quarterfinals and had a late 2-1 lead, only to see Tacoma tie the match with four minutes to go on the way to a comeback win.
The other quarterfinal matches Saturday have South Region champion Chemeketa hosting Spokane, North Region champion Peninsula hosting Wenatchee Valley and East Region champion Columbia Basin hosting Everett.
In Wednesday’s other matches, Everett beat Lane 3-1, Wenatchee Valley topped Highline 2-1 in overtime and Spokane beat Pierce 1-0.