Northwest soccer wins in OT, heads to state semifinals
After the Northwest boys soccer team’s 21-0 season and Class 6A championship title last year, the odds were not in the Grizzlies’ favor to reach the state’s final four again.
Northwest lost 13 players, it didn’t finish first in the City League, and it lost five regular-season games. But after a 1-0 win over North in overtime Tuesday in the state quarterfinals, Northwest is two wins away from reclaiming its state crown.
“This is what we’ve been playing for. Anybody that wins a quarterfinal has a chance, now there’s only four teams left,” Northwest coach Bobby Bribiesca said. “We’ve just got to put 80 more minutes together now to get into that final.”
Northwest defeated North last year in the quarterfinal, but when North traveled to Northwest this season, the Redskins won 3-2.
“I thought (North) would come in saying, ‘We’ve got to beat them this time,’ ” Northwest junior Andres Lleras said. “But they came to our home and beat us this year, so it’s our time to come back and get them.”
North’s defense and midfield did not allow any shots on goal from Northwest in the first half. The second half consisted of attacks and counterattacks from both teams, but no scoring by the end of regulation time.
“I think in crunch time in playoffs, play opens up and both teams here were playing to win,” North coach Brent Lewis said. “No one was playing just for penalty kicks, or not to lose, so as far as playoff games go, that’s all you can ask for, both teams trying to win that game.”
As the game entered the final minute of the overtime period, Northwest’s Bailey Bryand gained possession of the ball in the midfield and looked up with one target in sight — Lleras.
Bryand chipped the ball through to Lleras, whose speed was too much for North’s defense, and he slotted the ball to the far post and into the net to give Northwest its win with four seconds on the clock.
“I stole the ball at midfield, I knew time was running down. (Lleras) is one of the fastest guys out here, so I sent a little chip in, got in behind, and he finished the rest,” Bryand said. “I would have liked to finish the game easier than that, but a win’s a win.”
Northwest’s theme this season is to defend a championship, and the Grizzlies will have the opportunity to inch closer Friday in Olathe.
“It’s a mental part now that when you step on the field you know you’re Northwest and you work just as hard as anybody in the state,” Bribiesca said. “They’re up there to defend that state championship and I think we have the horses now to do it.”
Overtime — Northwest, Lleras (Bryand). Shots — Northwest 0-7-1—8, North 5-2-0—7. Saves — Northwest, Johnson 3-1-0—4; North, Hernandez 0-3-0—3.