Lions pull off unlikely tie

Bremen's Julio Gonzalez boxes out NorthWood's Sebastian Guillen to gain control of the ball.
Ron Haramia
Sports Writer

Although it will officially go down as a stalemate, based on the postgame meetings, Bremen was clearly the winner.
While NorthWood boys soccer coach Brad Duerksen was sharing some, ahem, constructive criticism to his team, Bremen head coach Mark Yoder was celebrating with his players after the Lions stormed back from a three-goal halftime deficit, scoring a goal in the final minute to tie NorthWood, 3-3, on a hot afternoon at Jane’s Park.
“A tie that feels like a victory,” said Yoder, whose squad is ranked No. 20 (Class A) in the coaches poll this week. “NorthWood certainly took it to us the first half. I’m glad we had a much better second half.”
The Panthers, who were ranked No. 18 in Class 2A last week before dropping out this week, dominated the first half, controlling the ball for a majority of the 40 minutes. Led by the speed of Landon Parker and ballhandling skills of Sebastian Guillen, NorthWood took a 3-0 lead at the break that could have been even more.
“I wish we would have been more awake in the first half,” continued Yoder. “That was definitely not the plan. We suffered a bad loss to Bethany Christian (Saturday) on defensive errors, but we did not learn from it. I told our senior back line of six players, ‘You better figure this out.’”
The Lions did come out stronger in the second half and when Collin Moren booted the ball in after a corner kick and scrum in front the goal in the 56th minute, it still felt more like a respectable Bremen loss was on the horizon, not the start of a major comeback.
“It was an absolute scrum in the goal mouth after the corner and Collin is one of those guys who is always in the right place at the right time and is willing to give that extra one percent to poke it home," Yoder said. "It’s not surprising that he put that in.”
The aggressiveness from the home team continued and over the next 15 minutes Jose Gallegos had a shot carom off the top of the post and Alex Alvarado just missed on three golden scoring opportunities. Then in the 75th minute, on another corner, Julio Gonzalez punched one in to make it 3-2.
“Two guys (Noah Reed, Julio Gonzalez) willing to throw their bodies in the line of danger,” explained Yoder. “Two guys willing to put it in the back of the net.”
The Panthers genuinely looked worried for the first time at that point and the Lions kept the pressure on. With less than a minute to play, Moren had an open look from about 20 yards out that ricocheted off the post, but right to Josh Hawkins. With time running out, the senior defenseman Hawkins rifled a shot on goal that was blocked by NW keeper Luke Lingle, but bounded right back to Hawkins, who followed up with another shot that slid past Lingle for the equalizer to complete the comeback.
“In the first half we were not willing to follow our shots,” added Yoder. “Josh is typically a fullback, but we pushed him up the field and he is willing to come forward. We took a chance and pulled a defender, pushed guys up the field.
“We got some good aggressive attacks on some set pieces and we started to get a little momentum, then as a coaching staff we said, ‘Let’s just get ultra aggressive. Let’s go for this.’ We switched formations, pushed guys forward, had less guys in the back, and said press harder, be willing to shoot. Tactically, it helped us, but there was a change in heart too, especially after the second goal."
At Bremen
NW – Landon Parker 10th min.
NW – Sebastian Guillen 28th min.
NW – Guillen 35th min.
B – Collin Moren 56th min. (Lennin Diaz)
B – Julio Gonzalez 75th min. (Josh Hawkins)
B – Hawkins 80th min.
Shots: Bremen 16, NorthWood 16
Saves: Bremen 5 (Brooks Feldman), NorthWood 7 (Luke Lingle)
Corner kicks: Bremen 4, NorthWood 5
Fouls: Bremen 7, NorthWood 17
Records: Bremen 4-2, NorthWood 2-3
Officials: Roberto Ontibros, Gustavo Hernandez Jr., Gustavo Hernandez Sr.