Revenge is sweet. Sweeter still in the playoffs. And even more so in overtime.
Bend High found that out firsthand Wednesday afternoon — even after Crescent Valley attempted to pull off the improbable for the second time against the Lava Bears this season.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation at 15th Street Field, the No. 11-seeded Raiders from Corvallis, who had been held scoreless all match, knotted the score 1-1 to force overtime in the first round of the Class 5A boys soccer state playoffs. In September, Crescent Valley erased a two-goal deficit against the same Bend team en route to victory. This time, however, the No. 6 Lava Bears would not yield.
“We wanted to go right at them right off the bat,” said Bend senior forward Parker Hollenbeck. “We wanted to get their toes early, because they had the momentum coming out of (regulation). We wanted to punish them right off the bat.”
The Bears did not dwell on the dramatic finish to regulation, as demonstrated 45 seconds into overtime, when Hollenbeck chased down a loose ball in the Raiders’ box and belted a turnaround shot that beat the oncoming goalkeeper.
Bend made the lead stand as it won 2-1 to advance to Saturday’s quarterfinal round against No. 14 Hermiston.
“We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs,” said Bend coach Nils Eriksson, whose team lost 4-3 at Crescent Valley in its third game of the season. “We weren’t going to do that again.”
The Intermountain Conference champion Lava Bears (11-1-3 overall) had led for 75 minutes in Wednesday’s match. They were constantly on the attack, frequently putting the Raiders on their heels. Bend accumulated 11 corner kicks, including four in the game’s first 10 minutes, and kept Crescent Valley goalkeeper Luca Greeven active. Yet the Lava Bears struck just once in regulation, in the fourth minute, as Jesse Selman cashed in on a leaping left-footed shot off an Isaac Kocurek-Orr corner kick.
Greeven kept the Raiders close, as he finished with a whopping 12 saves — 10 in the opening 80 minutes and another two in the two 10-minute overtime periods.
“We tried to just come out behind the ball and stepping a little bit harder to the ball, defending at the midfield a little bit higher,” Eriksson explained. “The first half, we played really well the first 10 minutes, and then we let them in the game a little bit. We defended a little too far back on our own half.”
Crescent Valley, which took fifth in the Mid-Willamette Conference, made several runs in the second half. But each time, the Lava Bears, highlighted by high-flying and pestering defender E.G. Pierce, turned away the potential scoring threats — until the 79th minute, when the Raiders (9-5-1) booted a deep ball upfield and John Sarna broke through. The towering forward chased after the pass, as did oncoming Bend goalkeeper Joel Witts. Sarna, though, just beat Witts to the ball, and a toe-punch into the net evened the score 1-1. Kocurek-Orr had a clean look just before the whistle, but his shot sailed high and wide, leading the match to overtime.
It was during that break, Hollenbeck said, that the Lava Bears shook off the Raiders’ last-minute score.
“While we were waiting for the overtime to start, we just got our heads straight,” he said. “‘Play simple, play how we know how to play and don’t worry about it. The past is in the past.’”
Early in the first overtime, Hollenbeck scored, and an aggressive and physical Bend team made the lead stand, as Witts corralled a corner kick just before the final whistle to send the Bears into the quarterfinals for the second time in three years.
“It’s good revenge,” Eriksson said. “Every team now is pretty good, and I think especially this year, it seems like it’s pretty even throughout (the 16-team bracket).”
Bend heads into a home matchup with No. 14 Hermiston, which won 1-0 in overtime Wednesday over No. 3 Hillsboro, without a loss in 10 straight matches.
“I think we feel like we can go up against anyone,” Eriksson said, “if we play up to our potential and do stuff that we know how to do.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com