NORTHEAST GLENDALE — A tie felt a lot more like a win for the Oakwood High boys' soccer team when it faced Glendale Adventist Academy at the Glendale Sports Complex Wednesday.
That's because Oakwood's equalizing goal came just before the final whistle, as both teams finished level at 2-2. It was a tough pill for the Cougars to swallow after they'd controlled most of the second half, but gave up several late scoring chances.
Still, Glendale Adventist Coach Joe Sanchez said he's already seen improvement from his squad in its second game.
"We did really good today," Sanchez said. "The guys are progressing and getting better. We just have to work a little harder and have a little more hustle."
With the game tied at 1 at halftime, the Cougars (0-1-1 overall and in Liberty League) came into the second half determined and quickly took their first lead of the game on a goal from Edward Figueroa.
Glendale Adventist's Jonathan Siguenza set the goal up with a beautiful pass that bounced over Oakwood's back four and to Figueroa. The Gorillas' goalie charged out to close off Figueroa, who wisely flicked it up and over the keeper and into the back of net for a 2-1 Cougars lead.
"I knew it was going in from how the goalie reacted," Figueroa said. "I started celebrating before it went in."
Oakwood put together a number of good chances late in the game, but most of them resulted in off-target shots or saves from Glendale Adventist goalie Tanner Warrick, who had seven saves in the match and five in the second half.
"It definitely felt like [a goal] was coming," Oakwood Coach Ronald Neef said. "At some point, you keep creating chances and something is going to go in, only good things can happen."
Oakwood's Nick Tillman made sure of that when he fired a shot from about 20 yards out and into the back of the net about two minutes into extra time to tie the game at 2.
"The last goal was pretty simple," Sanchez said. "They just caught our goalie off guard."
Oakwood first got on the board in the 20th minute when the Gorillas' Nate Dolin notched an easy goal after a botched clearing attempt in Glendale Adventist's box bounced right to him. The Cougars' Eric Marcondes tied the game at 1 five minutes later when he scored off a free kick from about 35 yards out, bending the ball into the top right corner of the net.
"That's why we have him take a lot of those shots," Sanchez said. "That was the best shot of the day."