Gonzaga Prep coach Christian Birrer may want to think about getting his mom a little something extra for Mother’s Day. She may have provided needed extra luck as the Bullpups beat visiting Pasco 2-1 in the first round of the State AAA soccer playoffs Saturday afternoon.
Birrer felt the pre-game rub of the soccer ball shaved into his mother’s head was the difference as the Bullpups battled back from a 1-0 deficit to score two goals in the second half and pull out the loser-out win.
“I think it might have made a difference,” the coach confirmed.
Birrer’s mom kept her promise that she would shave her head if the Bullpups beat Mead last Tuesday in the district championships. Prep got the 2-1 win and Birrer lost her locks.
The Bullpups will play Kamiakin in the round of eight, the Braves having survived a close shave with a 1-0 shootout win over Mead. The teams meet next Saturday in Richland.
In Prep’s win, the Bullpups controlled the first half until Prep’s Ed Leonetti tripped Pasco’s Andy Tyssen in the penalty box. Bulldog Chad Bodnar blasted the penalty kick past keeper Brian Mullen at the 39-minute mark for the 1-0 lead.
Prep got back on track in the second half, just missing on numerous scoring opportunities. Finally, 64 minutes in, Bullpup Joe Ascolese headed in a Joe Schwehr pass for the equalizer.
“We’ve been practicing that play all season with Schwehr and it never works,” Ascolese said. “I didn’t think it would work this time, but I timed it anyway and it worked.”
One minute later, Chad Zlateff took a Ben Lambert lob on the left side and outran the defense, punching the ball past Pasco goalkeeper Kyle Vierck for the game winner.
“We knew we were the better team coming in,” Birrer said. “We didn’t play one of our best games, but we showed a lot of heart.”
In the other game, the Mead Panthers ended their season with a shootout loss to the Kamiakin Braves.
After the two teams played to a scoreless tie at the end of regulation and the 10-minute overtime, the game was decided on the fifth and final shooter from Kamiakin.
Mead’s Jim Morton and Kamiakin’s Jeff Hadley each missed their opening attempts. Each team’s next three shooters connected to make it 3-3.
J.J Klaus’s final shot for the Panthers was slapped away by Braves goalkeeper Hadley while Kamiakin’s Jared Heimbigner buried his shot in the top-left corner to clinch the win.
“It’s a rough way to end a great season,” Mead coach Dick Cullen said.
Gonzaga Prep 2, Pasco 1
First half - 1, P, Bodnar (penalty kick) 39:00. Second half - 2, GP, Ascolese (Schwehr) 64:00. 3, GP, Zlateff (Lambert) 65:00.
Shots on goal - P 9, GP 16.
Saves - P, Vierck 8. GP, Mullen 4.
Kamiakin 1, Mead 0
First half- none. Second half- none. Overtime- none. Shootout- M 3, K 4.
Shots on goal - M 6, K 4.
Saves - M, Cullen 3. K, Hadley 2.
Subscribe to The Spokesman-Review’s sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.