The soccer ball took some funny bounces Wednesday night, but only Central Valley found a way to bounce back from adversity.
Down a goal in the first minute, the host Bears rallied for a 3-1 win over Davis in a first-round State 4A boys soccer match.
“We stayed composed and we didn’t panic,” CV coach Andres Monrroy said. “That’s the mark of an experienced team.”
It’s also the mark of an undefeated team. Next up for CV (17-0) is a quarterfinal match Saturday at 1 p.m. against Pasco (17-2) on the same pockmarked field at Central Valley Stadium.
Both teams struggled to play the ball on the uneven grass, which resembled a cow pasture.
“The field could be in better condition,” allowed Monrroy, whose team shares the grass with the track and field team. So why not play on the artificial turf at Albi Stadium or Spokane Falls Community College?
Monrroy turned and gazed at the hundreds of fans.
“Because of that,” he said.
“So many of our fans are here, and that’s huge for our team and our school,” Monrroy said.
The match opened in bizarre fashion. In the first minute of play, Davis forward Michael Raya launched a wishful shot from 30 yards. The ball swerved past CV keeper Andrew Enzler, caught the underside of the crossbar and hit the grass. Enzler picked up the ball on the bounce, but a line judge ruled that the ball had crossed the goal line.
“We’ve been down before, so that didn’t really bother us,” Enzler said.
Sure enough, CV equalized in the 16th minute. Nathan Grinalds sent a pass inside to Brian Choate, who chipped the ball from 15 yards out over onrushing goalkeeper Luis Birrueta.
“I was just trying to put it on frame,” said Choate, who repaid the assist from Grinalds late in the first half.
In the 37th minute of a seesaw match, Choate sent a long free kick into the box, where Grinalds headed the ball forward – and over Birrueta inside the far post.
“Our biggest philosophy is to get the ball out wide and find the guys for the crosses,” said Grinalds. “I was hoping for the goal.”
The Bears led 2-1 at halftime after two Davis goals were disallowed because of fouls.
Seven minutes into the second half, Grinalds struck again on another set piece. As freshman R.J. Stretch’s corner kick reached the box, Grinalds said he “sat back, hoping for a trash goal.” Instead the ball hung a bit, and Grinalds outleaped the Davis defenders for a strong header from 10 yards.
“He (Stretch) made me look good,” Grinalds said.
Even with a two-goal lead, CV continued to push the ball forward, creating several more chances. Davis (12-6) had two good opportunities to chip into the lead but couldn’t capitalize
Central Valley outshot Davis 7-6.
Saturday’s match against Pasco will be a rematch of the regional title game on May 12 in Pasco. Central Valley scored four goals in the first half and held on to beat the Bulldogs 4-3.
“Now we have them on our field. I hope we can put on a good show,” Grinalds said.
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