Battling toe to toe with Oly Town Artesians of EPLWA, Grays Harbor Gulls FC couldn’t throw the final punch in a 1-0 loss in the Washington State Super Cup semifinal.
From the onset of the match, Oly Town possessed the ball and looked the most likely to score. The Artesians had 4 shots on goal in the first half, but all were comfortably saved by keeper Alexis Garcia. The Gulls settled in after the opening 25 minutes, and had chances of their own; A header from Aaron Arias and a driven shot by Juanito Lopez both brought good saves from Oly Town Keeper Sawyer Price. The teams went to halftime tied at zero.
After the break, the Gulls saw more possession, as the game opened up. Arias, Lopez, and Cesar Corona had scoring chances, but couldn’t break through. Injuries forced the Gulls into making their three subs before they would have hoped. Christian Sanchez came in for William Galeana after 65 minutes, and at 71 minutes, Irvin Vicente and Jacob Irwin were replaced in the midfield by Enrique Cuevas and Jordan Hamblen.
It was the 70th minute that was the turning point in the match however. Tino Pantaleon took the ball to the end line and turned in a cross, which was called to have stuck the arm of Gulls defender Izzy Fernandez. The penalty was the only shot on goal of the second half for the Artesians, and was perfectly dispatched into the top left corner by Neil Boyal, a Sounders U23 player.
From there, the Gulls pushed for the equalizer. The Gulls moved to a three man defense of Alex Barene, Izzy Fernandez, and Victor Corona, who did just enough to keep Oly Town from doubling the lead. A wild sequence late in the match caused the keeper Price to come off his line to hold off a Christian Sanchez attack. Sanchez dropped a pass to Jordan Hamblen, but his shot was high.
Coach Drew Grannemann was very pleased with the effort of his squad on the night. “It’s nights like tonight that remind me why I initially fell in love with this sport and why it continues to be such a big part of my life,” he said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the heart, effort, and intensity we showed tonight. Seeing and feeling that passion is the greatest thing in the world.”
The man of the match for Grays Harbor was team captain Alex Barene.
The Artesians advance to face either Kirkland FC or Club America Nido Aguila Seattle in the State Cup Final on July 12.
The Gulls next match is just 2 days away. They host defending champion Kirkland FC at Stewart Field at 3pm on Saturday, July 22nd.