Rams, Owls exchange late blows to draw

Even when things appeared down, the Laguna Blanca and Cate boys soccer teams found ways to lift their spirits and continue battling to the final whistle in their Condor League match on Saturday.

The crosstown rivals put on an exciting, see-saw battle that ended in a 3-3 draw at Laguna Blanca.

Cate and Laguna Blanca battled to a 3-3 tie on Saturday on the Owls' field.

There was plenty of action in this match: hard hitting, defensive breakdowns, nice ball movement and some exquisite individual play.

Cate’s incredibly skillful Ema Boateng of Ghana brilliantly weaved through the middle of the Laguna Blanca defense and dished the ball off to Harry Gruner, who buried a 20-yard shot for the go-ahead goal with less than five minutes to play.

Instead of being mentally crushed, Laguna Blanca fired back and put the Rams’ backline and backup goalkeeper Ahmed Bou-Rabee under tremendous pressure. Luke Judson made a nifty move to break free in the box and ripped a rising that Bou-Rabee blocked withboth hands.

Bou-Rabee, who entered the game in the 52ndminute after starting goalkeeper Grant Redmond was injured in a collision with Laguna Blanca forward Troy Ritter, came up big twice more, turning away shots by Ritter and Sean Burke.

But the Owls (3-2-3, 2-1-2 Condor League)  would not be denied on their home field. Ritter threaded a beautiful through pass to Ryan Richardson and he beat the red-hot Cate goalkeeper for the game-tying goal in the final minute.

“We played a heck of a game,” Laguna coach Kevin Shertzer said. “When we went up 2-1 in the second half we had four or five chances where I thought we were going to get three and four (goals), but we didn’t score them. We talked about it with the coaches that we’ve got to put one in here or we’re in real danger. One mess up and they’re back in it. That happened and they go ahead…’

“So to come back like that … you can hear (the players yelling), you can see them, these kids are excited about it. It’s a tie, I think we may have deserved to win, but they’re a good team and it was good game, 3-3 is a fair result.”

Cate coach David Mochel accepted the result.

“It’s hard to be too disappointed with a tie, but it was hard when you score with five minutes left and you think (the time) is going to run out.”

Mochel felt his team really didn’t get going until the second half and then it hurt itself with mistakes at the end.

“At the end of the game, we weren’t marking, we were too ball focused and they put players behind us.”

Mochel lauded of Bou-Rabee in goal andthe offensive production of Gruner (goal and an assist). “We had a lot of great individual efforts and stretches of time when we had real great team play, that I’m really pleased with.”

Cate (5-1-2, 1-0-2) came out strong to start the match and scored the first goal in the 23rd minute on a nice combination play between Boateng, Avery Shwartz and Johnny Woolf. Woolf laid the ball off for Boateng, who beat Laguna goalkeeper Pascal Karma with a hard left-footed shot to the far post from a sharp angle.

Laguna Blanca would respond five minutes later when Richardson beat Cate’s offside trap and an onrushing Redmond to make it 1-1.

Now it was Cate’s turn to rebound. The Rams had three good scoring chances just before the end of the first half, two on free kicks, but they couldn’t convert.

Laguna Blanca was the dominant team in the early part of the second half and took a 2-1 lead in the 44th minute on a goal by Ritter. Luke Judson set up the play with a powerful run into the box.

The Owls kept pressuring and generated two more quality chances. In the 46th minute, Richardson just missed connecting on a cross by Ritter. Six minutes later, it was Richardson feeding Ritter, whose diving jab at the ball was stopped by Redmond, who was injured on the play.

After dodging those bullets, Cate worked up something and scored the equalizer. Gruner got the ball on the wide flank and hit a cross into the penalty area. Pascal came out for the ball but it somehow got away from him and Shwartz was right there to score into the open net.

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