May 1, 2014

'Family' earns big win

Coahulla Creek comes together to topple Buford

VARNELL — Coahulla Creek boys soccer coach Eric Parker told his players they “had to be a family” Thursday against Buford.

That family is heading to the second round of the Class 3A state playoffs.

Coahulla Creek’s first state postseason victory in soccer was a dramatic 3-2 result in extra time with Adrian Rodriguez’s goal in the 99th minute the decider for the hosts. The Colts, ranked No. 10 in the state at eurosportscoreboard.com, advance to the second round and face either Cross Keys or Oconee County on Tuesday. A match against Cross Keys would be at home but Coahulla Creek would travel to play Oconee County.

After the match, Parker huddled the team and fans in a circle and gave an emphatic speech.

“I told you that you had to be a family!” Parker shouted. “To win this, you had to do it together. You, me, them. All of us!”

There were more shots finding the net in the 20 minutes of extra time than the 80 minutes of regulation. The teams played two 10-minute halves although the GHSA Constitution and By-Laws state all region and state matches should play two five-minute halves.

Jo-An Barcenas tied the match 1-1, ultimately sending it to extra time, with a 77th-minute strike on a free kick for Coahulla Creek (14-3-1), the No. 2 seed from Region 5. In the first minute of extra time, Barcenas put the Colts ahead 2-1 with a shot from midfield, about 60 yards away, that sailed perfectly above Buford goalkeeper Zach Vickery’s hands and under the crossbar.

Entering as Region 7’s No. 3 seed and ranked No. 7 in the state, Buford (7-9) responded with a tying score by Alan Cabalerro in the 85th minute.

After the sides switched for the second half of extra time, the match appeared headed for penalty kicks. Rodriguez changed that.

A cross in front of Buford’s goal netted Coahulla Creek’s best opportunity of extra time. A shot was deflected to Rodriguez, who calmly collected and volleyed it under a diving Vickery to begin the home side’s celebration.

“It’s an amazing feeling right now,” Parker said of the win.

Buford scored first in the match when Christian Salgado converted Colin Owen’s cross in the 27th minute. The Wolves led 1-0 at halftime and shut Coahulla Creek’s attack — led by senior Pedro Garcia — down for more than 60 minutes.

“They are a good team and know what they’re doing,” said Garcia, the Colts’ leading goal scorer on the year. “They had a good defense on me the whole game. I have to give thanks to my defense for doing a great job.”

In the final 15 minutes of regulation, the Colts began amping up pressure. Parker said he switched mid-match from the team’s usual formation to an offense-heavy approach with four players up front and Rene Barcenas, Baley Jones and Irwin Rivera the only three in the back.

“I said, ‘You know what? We’re either going to win or we won’t,’” Parker said. “We were down one and we had to attack.”

Buford took 13 shots on goal to Coahulla Creek’s 11. Colts goalkeeper Missael Fraire made five saves, and Vickery finished with three.

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