When they say, “This is March” in the sports world, it usually refers to shocks and surprises coming at the end of the basketball season.
Well, it works for the beginning of boys soccer as well, apparently.
The Centralia boys soccer team took a bit of March Madness north with it to Tumwater, and knocked off the defending 2A EvCo champs 2-1 to start its season.
“The kids kept believing to that point that we could make things happen, and we did,” Centralia coach Noel Vazquez said.
Centralia got off to a later start than most of its fellow EvCo teams, not scheduling a non-league matchup over the weekend and diving straight into league play. Instead, the Tigers gave themselves an extra couple days to practice, but according to Vazquez, had one of their worst training sessions Monday night.
Tuesday, any trace of that was gone, as the Tigers got out strong on the front foot with a goal in the 10th minute from senior Leo Perez.
That opening blow did a good job of waking the T-Birds up, and Tumwater responded with a goal of its own from Perry Lower, 13 minutes later, sending the game into halftime tied up at 1-1.
The Thunderbirds continued the pressure in the second half, but Centralia’s back line — Luis Noel Orellana, Alan Cox, Allan Osborne, and Darrell Neuert — held strong.
“We definitely started really strong in the back,” Vazquez said.
When Tumwater got past them, keeper Carlos Hernandez was there for a few big saves, and when he couldn’t stop it, the iron came to the rescue more than once.
By the end of the night, Centralia was happy to play for overtime and take its chances in the extra period. But as it happened, the Tigers would get much more. Going into the final five minutes, Centralia sent a counterattack down the wing with a slightly-overhit ball. Tumwater was content to let it roll out of bounds, but at the last second, Alex Hernandez dashed in to keep it in, worked around a defender into the box, and cut it back for Simba Osman, who hammered it home for the game-winner.
“They stepped up big time and took out one of the best teams in the league,” Vazquez said.
Centralia will try to keep its momentum going Friday against Rochester, while Tumwater will try to create some of its own at Black Hills.