Good luck finding a better season-opening boys soccer match than the tilt between Sierra High School and Palmer.
The two squads started the year with a double overtime thriller with the Terrors besting the Stallions 3-2 on Aug. 20 at Sierra High School.
But it didn’t end without controversy.
“Coach, they cheated me out of my goal,” said Stallions Alan Gallarza as he walked toward his team’s bench following the first overtime.
The nullified goal in question came with 7:02 left in the first overtime with the score locked at 2-2.
After the ball ricocheted off the Terrors’ crossbar, Gallarza gathered it and sank a chip shot to seemingly win the game. The Stallions celebrated accordingly on the field and sidelines. The buzzkill came moments later as officials announced the goal did not count.
“The ref thought it hit the crossbar but the side judge said it didn’t but the ref had already blown his whistle,” said Stallions coach Todd Hale. “It was still a great game and I’m glad the boys never quit out there.”
Palmer earned a reprieve with the decision and capitalized two minutes later to ice the game in similar fashion to Sierra’s near game-winner.
The Terrors had opportunities to strike in the first overtime but failed to convert any of their shots into a goal.
Palmer’s Josiah Torres rectified that nearly five minutes into the second overtime. The Terrors drove downfield and Torres had a shot to score.
“The first time the ball came to me I missed the header,” Torres said. “The second time, I saw it coming again and I went for the header. It bounced off and I knew it was going to be there, so I put my left foot into it.”
He chipped the ball into the net to seal the win, snatched off his jersey and bolted toward the Terrors’ sideline to celebrate.
“That was amazing,” Torres said. “That was the first time I’ve ever done anything like that for the team and it felt so amazing.”
Both Sierra and Palmer needed to scrap for the game to reach overtime.
The Stallions took a 1-0 lead with 33:27 on the clock in the first half following Sebastian Velasco’s goal from 27 yards out.
But Sierra began a drought that lasted until the final minute of regulation. During that stretch, Palmer peppered Sierra with 14 shots on goal.
Palmer’s Anderso Sugia-Gomez missed a direct kick in the first that could have tied the contest but remained persistent on the pitch. Sugia-Gomez knotted the contest at 1-1 with 20:33 left in the second half. Then, he notched his second goal with 4:23 left in the regulation to give Palmer a 2-1 lead.
“It was insane,” Sugia-Gomez said of his second goal. “It happened out of nowhere. It was a cross[pass] and everyone missed it and I was like, ‘It’s here now.’ I tapped it in and scored.”
The crowd at Sierra fell silent as Palmer earned its first lead of the game. But Hale said his team displayed a no-quit attitude throughout the second half.
“In the past, we’d get frustrated and give up,” Hale said. “This group of boys did not give up. I’m proud of their effort.”
As time dwindled in regulation, Sierra earned an opportunity to tie the contest with 43.1 seconds on the clock.
The officials awarded Sierra a penalty kick following an infraction from Palmer. Luis Enriquez Salazar stepped up to take the PK for Sierra and nailed it to send the game to overtime.
“It was great on both sides,” Sugia-Gomez said. “We were fortunate enough to have that extra 10 percent they didn’t have and we got the win.”
The Stallions (0-1) have a lengthy break before they head on the road to battle Fountain-Fort Carson at 7 p.m. Aug. 31. Palmer (1-0) heads to Sand Creek at 4 p.m. Aug. 24