Part of any good game plan is to take an early lead. In its game against Twin City Union on Saturday, the Grays Harbor Gulls Football Club did just that. The Gulls got a goal from Victor Garcia in the 18th minute to cruise to a 3-0 victory against Twin City Union at Tiger Stadium in Centralia.
On the eventual game-winning goal, Garcia created just enough separation from TC defenders to get off a shot that found the back of the net inside the far post. It’s a move that’s been effective for Garcia since his playing days as an Aberdeen Bobcat.
“It’s just a classic move I’ve been doing since high school. I just cut to one side, take it up the field and shoot,” he said.
The Gulls pressured Twin City’s back line and had a few promising opportunities to expand the lead in the early going as Twin City defenders had trouble stopping through balls sent down the sidelines, allowing Grays Harbor to apply pressure and force three corner kicks in the first half.
Twin City’s keeper only faced four shots on goal in the first half but stayed busy, cutting out four other crossing attempts sent into the box before a Gull could connect on the other end.
Grays Harbor went into halftime with a 1-0 lead and Twin City came out looking for the equalizer. The Union pushed the pace with a few through balls of their own, but couldn’t put a shot on target and missed just wide of the post twice in the first five minutes of the second half.
Grays Harbor helped put a stop to some of Twin City’s momentum in the 61st minute when Tony Oropeza got his head on a volley from Gabe Arias to put the Gulls up 2-0.
Oropeza said his height, or lack thereof, can be an advantage when there’s traffic in the box.
“I’m a little, short guy so I just try to make it look like I’m not doing anything. When the play is going on that’s when I take off,” he said. “Usually, they don’t see me because I’m so short and I just take off toward the back line and try to pick up the garbage they leave behind.”
The Gulls put icing on the cake in the 84th minute with a goal from Aaron Arias when a shot from about 25 yards out was mishandled and trickled over the goal line. On the other end of the field, Gulls keeper Alexis Garcia had a relatively easy night and only had to make four saves on his way to a clean sheet.
Head coach Drew Grannemann was pleased to see the defensive strategy they had been working on come together on game day.
“We shut down in the midfield which is great. It’s been one of our biggest difficulties all year,” he said. “We found a way to isolate the attacking player and have one midfielder cut them out first so the defense can drop and cover space. We’ve been working on that the past couple of weeks and today it just clicked.”
Grays Harbor (2-3-1 overall) played one of its better games of the season despite working with a short bench. Grannemann normally likes to focus on coaching but jumped onto the field for the first 10 minutes of the match before subbing himself out.
Even though his team had to make some last-minute changes to its formation, he said the Gulls adjusted well and feels his team is getting more confident with each passing week.
“It’s great to see that spark again. After that first match we were excited about our ability to put goals away, then we just had this dry spell,” he said. “We’re slowly progressing into being more confident when we take shots and being more aggressive when we release the ball.”