It is all about timing.
With 10 minutes left in the game and trailing No. 7 Shasta by a goal Tuesday, East Union’s Cristian Perez toed the line for a penalty kick.
The kick was blocked high into the air and Perez timed his assault on the rebound perfectly, heading the ball just inside the upright to tie the game. The second-seeded Lancers took charge from there and went on to win the game in overtime on a golden goal by Noe Martinez, giving the Lancers a 2-1 win over the Wolves in opening-round action of the CIF NorCal Regional boys soccer championships at Dino Cunial Field.
“Their goalie guessed it really good,” Perez said. “He had a little more advantage than most because of his reach.
“He blocked it, it went in the air, I followed my shot and headed it in – it didn’t even bounce.”
Six minutes into the extra period, Alex Arroyo used some pretty fancy footwork to work his way through the Shasta defense to the baseline. He spotted Martinez cutting toward the goal and hit him with a perfect pass, allowing Martinez to end the game on a golden goal.
“I heard my teammate saying, `Alex, Alex,’” Arroyo said. “I looked up and Noe was wide open so I passed it to him.”
Martinez’s goal was the fourth shot of the extra period for the Lancers (15-3-8) as opposed to none for the Wolves (13-3).
“He (Arroyo) created a chance,” Martinez said. “It was all him.
“I was open between two players. He passed it to me, I stayed focused and I knew I had to make it in.”
Shasta got a good look and nearly hit a long-range goal in the first minute of the contest. After a scoreless first half, Luke Bland blasted a crossing shot just inside the upright midway through the second half to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
“They are a defensive team and they like to counterattack with No. 10 (Ryan Duperet) up top,” East Union coach Ronnie Green said. “And he almost made us pay in the first 30 seconds of the game with a phenomenal shot.
“Their goal was amazing. The kid knuckled the ball to the far post. But what you do when that happens is you bounce back like we did.”
Bland’s goal invigorated the Lancers who picked up the pace, which intensified after Perez’s header.
“In the second half we picked it up a little bit,” Green said. “We were too flat the first half. It’s intimidating making the regionals and we were a little nervous.
“We talked after regulation and I told the guys we needed to do this. We had them on their heels toward the end of the game so I wanted to keep pressing hard.”
East Union hosts No. 3 Branham of San Jose on Thursday at 6 p.m.