By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– This was one of those nightmare games that came to life for West Salem Tuesday afternoon.
Nothing was going their way offensively. Bend was bringing pressure, more so in the second half that led to a 1-0 lead in the 63rd minute.
But all-in-all, the Titans came out of the Freddy Kruger-trance in their 2-1 victory Tuesday thanks to two late goals by Kaden Young.
“It was fairly disappointing. We had the momentum the whole last ten minutes and we kind of dug it out,” Drew Zohner said.
Zohner led the offensive charge from the outside, trying to work Young and his teammates inward with cross-plays and trying to find the right passes through the Lava Bears defense. Bend’s defense clogged up the lanes and worked it back towards the Titans side of the pitch.
Sterling Barnes served as the anchor for West Salem. Keeping the Titans centered as they navigated through the chaos through the game as they looked to flip that switch for the better following the Lava Bears’ Angel Santos goal knowing what’s ahead with Summit and McKay.
“He had a positive attitude the whole way and he always believed in us,” Jesua Pena-Herrera said. “You know, it takes belief in your team until the last minute. The influence that he had was good, he kept our head in the game and never said a bad thing and never got down on us.
“It was definitely a wake-up call for us to get ready for Summit. We got to be more organized in the middle, we got to keep our composure. We look forward to McKay as well, they’ve always been a good composed team. That midfield battle will be a scrappy one as well. It’ll be one-goal, two-goal. But the game’s unpredictable and that’s what’s beautiful about it…anything can happen.”
And unpredictability did happen in favor of West Salem. As they time dwindled, their swarming intensity picked up.
They were knocking, knocking, knocking. Zohner with ten left. Young twice with four to go and three-and-a-half to play. Nothing.
That was until Young’s third attempt with three minutes to go tied it up at one. They quickly set up and got the ball back down into Bend territory where Zohner was fouled hard in the box with 1:29 left in the game. Setting up a penalty kick that Young connected on as Zohner was being checked out.
The PK goal handed the Titans a 2-1 lead as they kept the Lava Bears away long enough to complete the comeback.
West Salem’s goal is to win the conference this year, and with them being tied with the Scots and Mountain View with one league loss with the Storm and South Salem still unbeaten, every game is going to be crucial in their pursuit of the title.
With McKay on Tuesday, these next few days to heal up and prepare for what’s ahead with the Scots, Sprague and Summit their next three games.
“Mentality ready especially because I know they’re a good team. They’re usually a good contender every year,” Zohner said of McKay.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald