It has been a perfect ride so far this boys’ soccer season for Garinger High.
And it stayed that way Monday night as the Wildcats, ranked No.2 in the Observer’s Sweet 16, scored late to take a hard-fought 1-0 victory at No.7 Myers Park that locked up the Southwestern 4A championship.
Junior forward Tresor Mbuyu drilled a shot from just inside the 18-yard box with 15 minutes to play Garinger (21-0, 12-0) beat the Mustangs (11-4-2, 9-2), who will finish second in the conference, for the second time this season.
“This means a lot to us,” Mbuyu said. “We come from a lot of different backgrounds (seven different nationalities are represented on the team), but we’re like family. And we want to do something good for the school.”
This victory didn’t come easy, as Myers Park applied offensive pressure throughout and played a middle-clogging defense that didn’t leave the quick Wildcats much room to operate.
“They did a good job of shutting down the things we like to do,” said Garinger coach David Garrett, whose team beat Myers Park 4-2 in a very different kind of game Sept.25. “They put a lot of guys in the box, so we had to improvise. I liked our creativity in this game.”
The Wildcats almost had broken on top with 27 minutes, 30 seconds to play when Jose Vanegas’ bicycle kick from inside the 6-yard-box almost found the mark, but for an acrobatic save by Mustangs senior goalkeeper Emery Lovekamp.
Garinger goalkeeper Francisco Gonzales matched that with about 221/2 minutes left, with a diving save on what was probably Myers Park’s best scoring chance of the second half, a rocket from about 15 yards by junior Demetri Kaloudis.
The Mustangs remained dangerous into the final minutes, with Kaloudis ripping another big shot with seven minutes left, a rocket from the left of the goal toward the far post that Gonzales punched away.
In the final minute, Lovekamp made another big save on Vanegas, who made a solo run down the far sideline but couldn’t roll a right-footed shot past the Mustangs’ goalkeeper. That set up Myers Park for one last try, but Ali Osman shot wide from about 12 yards with just a few seconds remaining.
“It’s been our dream to have an undefeated season,” Vanegas said. “We want to be one of the best teams in the state.”
Garinger won’t play again until the playoffs begin next week. Myer Park will wrap up its regular season Wednesday at East Meck.
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