Time and time again the South Albany boys soccer team has watched Carlos Reyes-Aviles create goals from nowhere, even when the opposing team devotes extra attention to him.
So when he got a breakaway opportunity to score the match-winner Thursday night, the whole RedHawks bench stood up — they knew what was coming.
Reyes-Aviles buried a 72nd-minute goal to lead South to a 2-1 home win over West Albany and complete a gutsy comeback win in a pivotal rivalry game.
“He’s just got that special extra something that a lot of guys don't, where at any point of the game he can make it his own. That’s what he did tonight,” South coach Sam Tweeton said. “It’s hard because he gets so much attention on the field; he’s been double and triple-teamed all year. So it’s nice to see his hard work come to fruition.”
Reyes-Aviles received a lob pass over the top to send him in behind the Bulldogs defense and was left in a one-on-one situation with West goalkeeper Eli Podrabsky. Earlier in the match, in a similar situation, Podrabsky had rushed out and made a gutsy save on the edge of his own penalty area.
This time, though, he stayed put and Reyes-Aviles slotted a low shot into the bottom-right corner without breaking stride.
“I had to score,” Reyes-Aviles said. “That’s what went through my head — I just knew I had to score. I have to provide for the team. Our boys came through and just delivered. I’m proud of them.”
The Bulldogs dominated possession in the first half and were rewarded when Creed Sullivan scored an assist from Wyatt Javage in the 20th minute to open the scoring.
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“We played our game and played a really good first half,” West coach Kevin Branigan said. “They didn’t have anything, they couldn’t find a way through. We were tactically doing exactly what we wanted to do in the first half and imposing our game on them. Second half, though, we really didn't do that.”
The RedHawks began to control the ball through the midfield more in the second half and put several long shots on target. In the 60th minute, they broke through Sergio Lara scored from point-blank range. A little over 12 minutes later, Reyes-Aviles broke through for the match-winner.
“We try to beat teams by actually playing soccer, by keeping the ball,” Tweeton said. “The first half we were giving the ball away too easily. We were panicked, no sense of composure. In the second half, we really imposed our will on the game more and dictated the tempo of the game. That’s what we do best.”
With the RedHawks win, South (6-3, 3-1) and West (7-3-1, 3-1) are now tied for second in the league standings, both a game back of first-place Corvallis (5-5. 4-0). Thursday's result could add a bit more intrigue to what already figured to be a chaotic homestretch of the regular season.
“Honestly, it’s a lot of fun,” Reyes-Aviles said. “It just keeps you on your toes and you just don’t know what’s going to happen each week.”