Braves chase down Blue Devils

Wa-Hi's Ricardo Saldana, right, is all smiles as he congratulates Gerardo Gomez after Gomez fired in the Blue Devil's second goal of the day against visiting Kamiakan with 5:57 left in the 1st half of play Thursday afternoon.

Wa-Hi's Ricardo Saldana, right, is all smiles as he congratulates Gerardo Gomez after Gomez fired in the Blue Devil's second goal of the day against visiting Kamiakan with 5:57 left in the 1st half of play Thursday afternoon. Photo by Jeff Horner.

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WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla High School boys soccer team jumped to a 2-0 lead, but stumbled upon more tough luck on the Blue Devils pitch Thursday afternoon against the Kamiakin Braves, losing 3-2, in overtime.

“This is the fifth time that we’ve lost in overtime,” Wa-Hi coach Mike Washington said. “We’ve got to do a better job of putting games away. It was like two different games, the first and second halves. The first half, we dominated and moved the ball around well. Instead of movement getting better, it got worse in the second half and overtime.

“We’ve got to put the guys away when we have the chance. Another goal, after we were up 2-0, would have killed them, but we didn’t get it.”

The Blue Devils got off to a fast start, scoring within the first five minutes of the game. A cross from Diego Avila-Ruiz hit Alexis Medina, who headed it into the net.

Wa-Hi scored again with six minutes remaining in the first half. A high-arcing pass from the right corner connected with Gerardo Gomez, who headed the shot past the Kamiakin keeper, Riley Shulman, for the second Wa-Hi goal.

In the first half, Wa-Hi put nine shots up, with five on goal for the two scores.

The Braves had only four shots in the first 40 minutes, three on goal.

Wa-Hi continued its advantage on shots attempted and on goal in the second half, shooting eight times with six on goal.

Kamiakin had only three shots, but they results in two goals to tie it and send the game to overtime.

First, the Braves scored in the 48th minute when a penalty kick just outside of the front of the Wa-Hi goal box was booted in by Gil Guizar past diving Wa-Hi keeper Jorge Mejia.

Mejia was filling in for hobbled starting Blue Devil keeper Mason Aherns, who had the three saves in the first half.

Mejia gave up another goal in the 49th minute of the game as Kamiakin’s Jose Anguiano took a ball and angled a grounder from left to right and past a diving Mejia for the equalizer.

The starting Blue Devil keeper, Aherns, returned to the game in the 55th minute.

In the first overtime session, Anguiano broke away with the ball about 30 yards away from the goal and scored to the right of a diving Aherns in the 83rd minute.

“Anytime it stays close or you make mistakes, you feel down,” Washington said. “I think we are a little fragile now. We are expecting to lose close and overtime games instead of expecting to win them. And, yeah, that is annoying. But we’ve got the playoffs coming up so hopefully we’ll improve in time for those.

Wa-Hi concludes the regular season at home against Chiawana Saturday at 1 p.m. The Blue Devils then travel to Chiawana Tuesday for the first round of the playoffs at 7 p.m., in a loser-out match.

“It is in our hands. It is in nobody else’s. We got to win the games, it is as simple as that,” Washington said. “It’s not like we have to rely on somebody else, we’ve got to win them ourselves.”

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