A shootout seemed inevitable, and the Paso Robles High boys soccer team was perfectly fine with that.
After all, the Bearcats made it to Tuesday’s game against visiting Lakeside of Lake Elsinore in the second round of the CIF-Southern Section Division 5 playoffs because of a shootout. It almost happened again, if only they could’ve held their opponents from scoring for a second longer.
The small window of opportunity was all the Lancers needed, as sophomore midfielder Ricky Ruiz flicked in a pass to senior midfielder Chris Rodriguez in a crowd in front of the goal for the game-winning header in a dramatic 2-1 win in the second overtime — just a second from a shootout. As soon as Rodriguez scored, the referee blew a series of whistles, signaling the end of Paso Robles’ season.
The Bearcats (13-5-8) were hoping for a shootout, considering they won a tournament this season after one and outlasted Maranatha 3-2 in penalty kicks after a 2-2 tie in a first-round division playoff game last week. They were just one second away from a similar opportunity.
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“We were prepared for a shootout,” senior midfielder Daniel Arevalo said. “At the end of practices, we’d practice our shootouts. We were pretty confident that we’d go to a shootout.”
The Lancers (16-7-3) weren’t as optimistic.
“Me and my assistant knew who our shooters were going to be,” Lakeside coach Colin Gilliland said. “But hopefully, we didn’t have to get to that point. And we didn’t, thankfully.”
Lakeside struck first, when Ruiz had his first assist after finding junior forward Oscar Gonzales for a header in the 58th minute.
Paso Robles responded with an equalizer two minutes later, thanks to a free kick from senior defender Mario Leon near midfield that ended up in front of a leaping Pedro Solorio, a fellow senior defender who moved up the field and then headed the ball past the goalkeeper.
“Mario typically takes those free kicks and try to send it to the penalty marker,” said Paso Robles coach Evan Clark, whose Bearcats have made consecutive appearances in the second round.
Both teams kept on attacking, with Lakeside finishing with a 14-13 shot advantage. Senior goalkeeper Jesus Gil kept himself busy for Paso Robles, as he finished with six saves.
Neither team budged for nearly 30 more minutes after Solorio’s equalizer.
“But it was that one last play,” Clark said. “Only if we held on for a second longer.”