With two late goals, Tiger boys soccer moves on to Round 3
With two and a half minutes left in the game and their team up 2-1, players on the Kennedy High School bench had started talking about the next round. When Summit High School senior Alex Veleta put a loose ball in the back of the net for the game’s second equalizer with 2 minutes, 13 seconds remaining, they stopped.
The cheer that followed the goal was almost enough to mistake the contest in Lakewood for a Tigers’ home game. The cheer that would come 1 minute, 43 seconds later absolutely was.
With 30 seconds left to play Summit senior George Kasch got his head on a Thomas DeBonville throw-in to put the Tigers up for the first time, in the game’s closing seconds.
The called goal sent Kennedy coach Bari Abuhadema into a frenzy, calling for the official to come to the sideline.
“From here it looked like it wasn’t touched,” a more collected Abuhadema said after the game. Since a player can’t score on a throw-in the goal was an immediate source of controversy. “It’s unfortunate for people to reach this point and for it to end like that.”
From a closer view Kasch clearly made contact with the ball. Whether the ball was already in the goal remains up for debate.
But the referee declared it a goal with little if any hesitation, and the Tigers held on to win 3-2 in front of a stunned home crowd.
“I’m still shaking and overwhelmed,” Kasch said taking in the moment, but was quick to credit his teammate’s equalizer. “We couldn’t have done it without Alex.”
For Veleta — who’s has been unable to capitalize on scoring opportunities in recent weeks — the goal was a long time coming and it couldn’t have come at a more critical moment.
“He played his heart out today and he deserved it,” Tigers head coach Tommy Gogolen said of the goal. “He played absolutely outstanding all game.”
For his part, Veleta called it a relief. “I was getting a little nervous that this might be my last game.”
In a back-and-forth first half that saw Summit unable to capitalize on a number of early opportunities, Kennedy scored first with 10 minutes remaining in the half.
Commanders forward Alejandro Alaniz seized one of Kennedy’s few opportunities, passing a Tiger defender on a break and putting a strong shot past Tiger goalie Noah Glasco.
Summit immediately countered with a near goal by DeBonville on a one-on-one that the Kennedy goalie was able to block just left of the goal.
The Tigers’ first equalizer came when Summit’s Ed Bouchard redirected a corner kick into the back of the net.
Tied 1-1 early in the second half, Alaniz scored the Commanders’ second go-ahead goal off an impressive cross to inside the 18.
Summit largely dominated possession and scoring opportunities but couldn’t capitalize again until Veleta’s late goal.
The Tigers will travel to Colorado Springs Saturday, Nov. 1, for a quarterfinal matchup against No. 2 seed Classical Academy. The game will be a rematch of the teams’ early-season meeting in which the Titans handed Summit its only loss on the year. Classical Academy topped the Tigers 3-1 in Farmer’s Korner Sept. 6.
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