WALLA WALLA — Walla Walla Community College trailed Tacoma 1-0 into the 81st minute here at the WWCC pitch Sunday in NWAACC quarterfinal men’s soccer playoff action.
Then, the Warriors broke through to score three unanswered goals and pull out a 3-1 win over the Titans. The win earns WWCC a trip to the NWAACC semifinals.
“We started poorly,” WWCC coach Chad Bodnar said. “We didn’t hit a groove until about 60 minutes in, when we started getting some really good chances. Credit to our kids, they decided they weren’t going to lose the game and be done with their season.”
The Titans cashed in their one, best-scoring chance of the first half.
Luke Logan took a free kick from midfield following a Warrior foul. Logan lifted his kick just to the left of the Warrior goal mouth. Donald Rose went up and headed Logan’s kick into the lower-right corner for a 1-0 Titan lead with 28:06 left in the first half.
The Warriors upped the pressure, but the Titans withstood every Warrior attempt. Sergio Burgos beat the Titan keeper, Jessie Garcia, to a loose ball, but Burgos’ shot at an open net went over the top with 13:45 left in the half.
Ivan Chamorro got a pass to Burgos who blasted at the net, but Garcia handled it with five minutes left. In stoppage time, Max Smith found Mario Guizar, but Guizar’s shot went wide.
The Warriors went to intermission down 1-0.
“We’ve been setting for eight days (since the last match) and it was tough on the kids,” Bodnar said of the slow Warrior start. “It took us awhile to get going. When you give up an early goal, like we did, you’re always chasing the game.”
The Warrior “chase” intensified in the second 45 minutes. The Warriors kept the game at the Titan end for the first five minutes of the second half, but came up empty.
The Warriors earned two consecutive corner kicks in the 66th minute.
Garcia punched away Jhony Mendoza’s first corner kick and the Titans cleared the second. In the 69th minute, Guizar fired a shot that a diving Garcia saved, but the rebound came out. Smith drilled the rebound, and Garcia got his legs in front of the shot to turn the Warriors away.
“We were unlucky on some of the chances we had,” Bodnar said. “When it is like that, you just have to keep grinding, and we did.”
In the 81st minute, Perry McNamar dribbled across the Titan penalty box and left a pass for Kyle Menchaca. Menchaca made a back-heel pass to Smith, who beat Garcia to the left-bottom corner and the Warriors were even at 1-1.
“We pressed all game, and we’ve got a great team that is always going to score,” Smith said. “Kyle was going to goal, and I was just following in. It (the ball) fell right to me, so I just had to do the easy part and tuck it in.”
Once the lid was off the net, the Warriors wasted no time in taking the lead.
“Once you get the momentum after you score, you’ve got the belief,” Smith added. “We got the ball out of the net, set it back down, and the belief was that we were going to go get another one (goal).”
Thirty seconds later, Chamorro picked up a deflection 20 yards out and drilled his shot home for a 2-1 Warrior lead with 8:30 left.
“I knew there was no way we could lose today,” the Las Vegas freshman Chamorro said. “We kept digging, digging, digging. It was a team effort.
“I had no idea (where the ball came from),” he said of his goal. “I just saw the opportunity. I hit it the first time and it went in.”
The Titans mishandled a clearing opportunity in the 90th minute, and Chamorro was there to clean up the Titan mistake. Chamorro nailed his shot into the upper-left corner to produce the 3-1 Warrior win.
“It was that last-minute effort,” Chamorro added. “I keep pushing and it went home.”
The Warriors advance — for the first time since 2009 — to the NWAACC semifinals looking to add a state title to their 2008 championship.
The East Division champion Warriors, 15-1-3, face Highline, 13-4-3, at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at the Starfire Complex in Tukwila.
“They (Highline) are a tough team,” Chamorro said. “We won 1-0 (in an earlier regular-season meeting). Like today, we’ve just got to work hard.”
If the Warriors win that semifinal, they will face the winner of Peninsula (21-1-1) and Edmonds (13-7-3) in the other semifinal, for the NWAACC championship on Sunday.