Arroyo Grande High boys soccer player Oscar Munoz-Quintana left it until the final ticks on the clock in a soccer game against San Luis Obispo to work his magic.
As regulation was ready to end and overtime to start in an 0-0 tie, Munoz-Quintana took a pass on the left wing from Romario Mejia, got behind the defense but found himself without much of an angle to the goal pinned near the sideline.
But he figured without much time on the clock, he might as well give it a crack and somehow bent a right-footed shot around Tigers goalkeeper Baldric Bermudez, squeaking the ball past him to the far right side of the net.
Munoz-Quintana spread his arms and shouted in triumph and his teammates mobbed him in celebration.
Moments later the referee blew the whistle and the Eagles won 1-0 in a defensive battle that saw few opportunities for scores throughout.
“I just blanked out,” Munoz-Quintana said. “I just knew we didn’t have much time and so once I got the ball from Roma, I just shot it. It was all instinct, all adrenaline.”
With the dramatic win, Arroyo Grande (10-5-1, 5-0) maintained its lead atop the PAC 7.
For the Tigers (4-4-4, 1-3), it was a bitter pill to swallow as they played a physical match that seemed destined for overtime.
But San Luis Obispo had several key players out, including three who were sitting out because they were red-carded in the Tigers’ last game against Paso Robles, a 3-2 loss.
Those included one of their leading scorers Lukas Holocher, who got called for a controversial handball in the penalty box against the Bearcats, San Luis Obispo coach Frank Marotti Jr. said. Other players were out sick.
“I’m really happy with the boys and how they played today,” Marotti said. “We suited only 13 today and we have 21 on our roster. We really had to mind our Ps and Qs with how the last game went. I thought we put together a good performance and they just made a good play.”
Marotti credited his goalkeeper, Bermudez, with playing a solid game and keeping the Tigers tied throughout with key saves. He recorded five saves.
Arroyo Grande put pressure on San Luis Obispo for most of the first half, but still, the first good look at goal for the Eagles didn’t come until nearly 20 minutes into the match. That’s when forward Raul Munoz turned and dribbled the ball through a gap in the Tigers’ defense. With openings on each side of goalkeeper, Munoz fired off a low shot that missed just wide left.
Then on a cross to the middle that was headed by one Eagle, forward Alexander Tseegai took the flick and attempted a header of his own that sailed over the top post.
The Tigers spent much of the first half at midfield or defending the ball in their zone with some occasional long passes and quick runs at the Eagles’ goal.
One of the Tigers’ best opportunities in the first half came on a free kick after midfielder Jordan Knauer, controlling the ball, collided with an Eagles player who flipped into the air and was called for the foul on Knauer.
The subsequent long free kick bounced dangerously close to the Arroyo Grande goal into traffic and nearly was guided into the net after a ricochet but sailed over the net.
But often the Eagles had five players back on defense to thwart penetration into the box.
With two minutes left in the half, Tseegai, one of the Eagles fastest players, took a shot that was deflected off a Tigers’ player’s foot. Bermudez made a leaping grab to his right to preserve the scoreless tie.
That ignited the Tigers in the second half as they had more opportunities and did a better job of keeping possession of the ball.
But a shot from about 40 yards out midway through the half that Eagles goalie Aaron Friedman made a spectacular save on was fruitless.
Friedman dove backward on a ball that nearly sailed over his head and into the net but batted it away.
“Our work ethic has really made us the team we are this season,” Arroyo Grande coach Brad Bowdey said. “We have a young team and they’re coming of age.”
Bowdey said Munoz-Quintana’s shot was from an “impossible angle” and got the team a great win against a strong San Luis Obispo team that’s better than its record shows so far.
“They’re a tough team,” Bowdey said. “This was a battle.”