Always be closing.
The immortal words of Alec Baldwin silently echoed throughout the berm-entrenched pitch of Field 25 at the OC Great Park Wednesday afternoon, where the La Sierra Golden Eagles clawed back from a 2-0 deficit to deadlock the Westcliff men’s soccer team, 2-2.
It wasn’t a loss, and the Warriors remained unbeaten at home, but it felt like a setback nonetheless.
“It’s always been said that 2-0 is the most dangerous lead,” Westcliff head coach Joey O’Keefe said. “But you have to give credit to (La Sierra), because it’s easy to be down 2-0 and fold. Or, you can do what Coach (Jesse) Olivas’ team did — fight back, get a goal, get your swagger back, and get another goal.”
The Warriors outshot La Sierra 15-2 in the first half, and were their usual, hard-stepping selves after Cesar Ortega did what he does best, firing up his squad with the game’s first finish in the 23rd minute.
Miguel Arriaga put on a show of his own five minutes before the break when he found a crack on the right wing and made La Sierra pay with a grounded winner for the 2-0 lead.
But Westcliff came out of halftime without the same aggression it showed in the first, and slowly, La Sierra found its footing.
In the 69th minute, Juan Bakchellion sent home an unassisted winner, and 10 minutes later, Manuel Zendejas led Israel Vasquez to find the back of the net and capture the rest of the momentum.
Forty scoreless minutes played out from there.
“We had our opportunities,” O’Keefe said. “We didn’t convert. If you can’t close out a game, there’s always a chance of the other team clawing back in.”
La Sierra outshot Westcliff 11-4 in the second half, and 8-6 in the overtime periods.
“We gave our best effort,” O’Keefe said. “But there’s a difference in our best-effort today, and our overall best-effort. In a lot of areas, we weren’t good enough. But, I’ve got to give credit to (La Sierra). They fought back. They did a great job.”
The Warriors will return to the practice pitch at 9 a.m. Thursday in preparation for its rematch with Providence Christian Saturday on the Championship Stadium pitch.
Westcliff (5-3-2) knocked off the Sea Beggars, 5-3, on August 29th.
Kickoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.
To contact Brandon Petersen, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.