WALLA WALLA — It took 89 minutes of play, but Wa-Hi emerged victorious over league-leading Richland in Big Nine boys soccer action Tuesday evening.
Wa-Hi’s Salvador Esquivel booted a free kick from the east side of the pitch, getting just enough hook to put the ball above and behind Bomber goalie Nash Yamauchi, ending the previously scoreless game in overtime at 1-0 for the Blue Devils.
Richland, in first place in the Big Nine at 6-3, could only watch as the Blue Devils piled up in the pitch in celebration.
For the Blue Devils, the win had an element of revenge. They lost to Richland, 1-0, also in two overtimes, at the Bombers’ field earlier this season.
"It was nice to get a little payback," said Wa-Hi coach Mike Washington. His team moves to 5-3 in league play.
Richland coach Octavio DoValle put the result on two bad calls, both resulting in Wa-Hi penalty kicks in the final four minutes.
Esquivel never should’ve been in the corner, DoValle said.
"Those last two calls were pretty brutal," DoValle said. "On the last one, our guy didn’t touch (Esquivel). I hope we can grow from the loss."
Washington hopes his team can grow from the win.
"We can’t seem to get the wins in regulation," he said. "We know they’re really good, and I knew it would be close, but I didn’t think it would be this close."
Wa-Hi and Richland spent most of regulation and the two extra periods with even ball control, and they took 11 shots each.
Wa-Hi goalkeeper Andrew Glaeser made six saves to Yamauchi’s five to keep the Bombers scoreless.
"That’s what we expect from him," Washington said of Glaeser, who will play soccer on scholarship for Oregon State University next year. "He’s a senior and a captain and we expect that kind of play."
Glaeser made two very close saves on the day.
In the first, Richland’s Jonathan Larsen got a head on a penalty kick 20 minutes in. Glaeser leapt to deflect it, then blocked a subsequent kick.
Larsen threatened again 66 minutes in, driving in from the west and with the sun at his back. Glaeser left the net to scoop the ball to safety without a defender in sight.
Wa-Hi also had its missed opportunities.
Esquivel, a midfielder, made four shots on goal before his game-winning strike after a call for tripping.
It was the Blue Devils’ 11th goal of the season. Glaeser has allowed just three in.
"The league is close this year," Washington said. "No one’s running away with the lead."
The Blue Devils have four games left on the year, beginning with a trip to Wenatchee Saturday.
A sweep of the remaining four matches would put them in front of the league, Washington said.
Wa-Hi hosts Davis next Tuesday, and wraps up its home schedule with Eisenhower May 3.