It looked like it was going to be a long evening for Holy Family and their fans in their first conference game of the year Sept. 16 against Skyview. Struggling to find any sort of rhythm in the first …
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It looked like it was going to be a long evening for Holy Family and their fans in their first conference game of the year Sept. 16 against Skyview. Struggling to find any sort of rhythm in the first 35 minutes with only three shots on net, a beautiful pass from sophomore Jackson Ward to junior Alex Kusek tied things at one apiece, jump-starting the Tigers’ offense.
However, a minute and 17 seconds later, Skyview sophomore Jaime Barrera put his team back on top. The constant theme of playing catch-up plagued HF all night, but boy did they fight despite clawing back to an equalizer four separate times.
The second tie came from the right foot of Ward with 1:14 remaining before the intermission. Contributing on both scores, the talent, and potential of the sophomore was on full display in the half, keeping his team in it through 40 minutes.
Staying on course, Skyview took their third lead on an incredible shot off the post from standout junior Luis Reyes — who gave the Tigers defense fits from the start. His play plus senior Roger Ibarra’s ability to control possession consistently on the Holy Family side of the field put stress on the back unit the majority of the contest.
“It was definitely difficult,” Holy Family coach David Martinez said of the Skyview attack postgame. “They knew it from last year — it was a similar game last year. We are a little bit faster than last year, so I think that speed helped out. But when we pressed up, we left that gap between our center backs and our holding (midfielders), so I think that’s what ended up costing us the game with that space and those shots. They are a great team. They got speed, and they got the individual talent, so it was definitely a great test for a defense, and I think they passed.”
Talk about speed, part of that improvement comes in large part on the feet of HF freshman Alden Bennett, who tied the game at three with 22:49 remaining. Blistering past the Wolverines defense and placing a perfect low-ball in the back-left corner of the net, Martinez’s new toy enhances his team’s speed in the open field against indecisive defenses.
As Reyes placed another perfect shot in the top left-corner past junior goaltender Liam Burns five minutes later, panic at Mike G. Gabriel Stadium began to set in for the Holy Family faithful. But would you believe me if the Tigers tied it again?
They did. And wow, was the goal heads-up.
Drawing a penalty, the free kick opportunity for HF and junior Dylan McIntosh didn’t go to waste.
Quick-kicking the free kick chance before the Skyview defense and goaltender became set paid incredible dividends for the wily-veteran — putting the score at four apiece with only 3:26 left.
“His dad is on the coaching staff, and he said `did you teach him that’ and I go, `you know what it’s just stuff we talk about in practice.’ If you don’t ask for 10 (seconds), it’s your shot to take. So, Dylan came over and said `hey, I saw the (goal) keeper on his (goal) post, I didn’t ask for 10 so I just put it on that side and luckily it went in.’ I think he has had a couple of free kicks this year that have been tremendous and it’s that confidence,” Martinez said.
Destined for overtime after both teams dealt and received blows for 80 minutes, the extra period was all Skyview (5-0-1). Outshooting the Tigers (3-2) 6-0 in the frame, the final shot came with 1:37 left (in the first OT period) off the foot of senior Jared Ramos — ending a playoff-caliber type of game and effort from both schools.
“It was a great game. I was just telling the boys this was a playoff-caliber game, something you would see in semi’s,” Gabriel said. “We have similar styles — you could see that we are the younger team. We’re still gelling, but one thing we were looking for during a hard game like that was our composure and our ability to come back. These guys fought against adversity.”
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