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Grizzlies fall in double-overtime heartbreaker

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Eighty seconds was all that stood between Ashland and Wilsonville heading to penalty kicks to decide Tuesday night’s OSAA Class 5A state playoff opener at Walter A. Phillips Field.

But, as it turned out, the final corner kick of the game proved to be the final corner kick Ashland would defend in the 2018 season.

Adam Landy’s tap in off a ball across the face of goal turned what looked like a game heading for PKs into a 2-1 Wilsonville upset victory over the fifth-seeded Ashland boys soccer team in double overtime, quickly putting a halt to the Grizzlies’ bid for a thrilling comeback win.

“That’s part of soccer and it goes the way it wants to go,” Ashland head coach Abdi Guled said. “Tonight was not our night. We had some chances and (Wilsonville) gave us a good game. That’s just how it is.”

The No. 12-seeded Wildcats, who also claimed a win over the Grizzlies the last time the two teams met in the 5A playoffs six years ago, will face fourth-seeded Central — which beat Hillsboro 2-1 on Tuesday — in a quarterfinal matchup on Saturday.

For the Grizzlies, the gut-punching loss is a tough pill to swallow for a team that just days earlier was celebrating the Midwestern League title on their home field after they beat Springfield 2-0.

Tuesday night also happened to be the first loss Ashland (8-4-2 overall) suffered at home this season.

But for a team that graduated 14 seniors and entered the year with uncertain expectations, they proved they could hang even in defeat.

Guled will return all but one senior, Trevor Fulton, next season.

“I think that we’re looking forward to see what else they can do (next season),” Guled said. “Making the playoffs, this is a big accomplishment for them this year.”

Wilsonville (8-6-2) was able to set up the game-winning goal after Ashland was forced to clear ball out to slow down a Wildcat counterattack.

As the ball whipped into the center of the box, Grizzlies goalkeeper Gabriel Giancarlo got a fist to it, but was unable to complete punch it out of danger. The ball was volleyed back into the six-yard box by Joseph Friedman, who was camped out at the far post. Landy didn’t get much on it, essentially seeing the ball hit off his stomach and into the back of the net.

Wilsonville created the vast majority of the scoring chances in the game, out-shooting Ashland 22-7.

Giancarlo finished with six saves in the game, including a pair of fantastic ones — one in each half — that kept the game tied.

Minutes after Giancarlo made the first of his two big saves, one where he fly to his left to just barely tip the shot attempt over the crossbar and out for a corner, is when Wilsonville took the lead.

It, like the game-winning goal, came off a corner and was scored by Landy, who took advantage of another loose ball in the box and put the Wildcats up 1-0 in the 23rd minute.

“I think lately the corner kicks are just not working with some kind of strategy where they just jump into the ball and shove into what’s out there,” Guled said. “It’s hard to defend those when everyone just throws themselves toward the net.”

Ashland, despite not recording its first shot attempt until the half-hour mark, tied the game less than two minutes into the second half.

Freshman striker Davidson Graham controlled a cross from captain Scott Gustafson in the 18-yard box and then was clattered into from behind to draw a penalty.

Gustafson stepped up to the spot and calmly finished it.

The Grizzlies were able to get scoring opportunities after tying things up, but couldn’t put much on frame, forcing just one save out of Wildcats goalkeeper Zachary Brehm..

“I think we were trying to figure it out a little bit and see how things were going. We were okay, but unfortunately those corner kicks got us,” Guled said of his team’s second-half performance. “I think (Wilsonville) was a little more physical than us (in the first half) and that just threw us off our game a little bit. But we tried to come back and figure it out and do what we could do. I’m proud of our boys for how they played — they played well tonight.”

Contact Danny Penza at 541-776-4483 or dpenza@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter at @penzatopaper.

Larry Stauth Jr./For the Daily TidingsAshland High junior Scott Gustafson passes the ball to teammate Michael Holden while holding off Wilsonville defender during Tuesday night's OSAA Class5A playoff game at Walter A. Phillips Field.
Larry Stauth Jr./For the Daily TidingsAshland High sophomore goalkeeper Gabriel Giancarlo leaps up to grab a ilsonville cross during the second half of Tuesday night's OSAA Class 5A playoff game at Walter A. Phillips Field.