Sports

Nazer’s overtime goal saves La Habra from a loss

La Habra's Chris Valencia gets a touch on a ball in front of Troy forward Peter Seminara during the first half of a 1-1 draw, Wednesday afternoon at La Habra High.
La Habra’s Chris Valencia gets a touch on a ball in front of Troy forward Peter Seminara during the first half of a 1-1 draw, Wednesday afternoon at La Habra High.

by Erik Markus
La Habra Journal

The La Habra boys’ soccer team avoided devastation with an overtime equalizer from forward, Austin Nazer, earning a 1-1 tie with Troy at home, Wednesday afternoon.

A late slide tackle inside the box from keeper Richie Ruiz gave Troy (11-1-2, 2-0-1) l a penalty kick and a chance to put the first the first goal in the net.

However, down 1-0 with just minutes left before the final whistle, midfielder Israel Alvarez sent a perfect lob on a corner kick to Austin Nazer who connected with his head for the goal.

“I was really determined, I saw the ball coming and it was perfect, I just had to attack the ball and score,” Nazer said.

The Highlanders (6-6-3 0-2-1) held off the Warriors strong counterattack thanks to the fine play from Ruiz, however all of his strong play was nearly erased when he fouled a forward inside the box to give the Warriors a penalty kick.

“I knew it was going to happen as soon as I came on it, the offensive player turned his back to me, and at that point I knew it was coming,” Ruiz said. “Coach says if you’re going to go out, go 100 percent.”

Ruiz clipped the attackers leg in his effort to secure the ball.

“Even though they call the foul on you, you just have to let your mind go. There’s no way of getting that back,” he said about the situation.

La Habra's Ray Flores splits three Troy players in the first half of the Highlanders' 1-1 draw with Troy, Wednesday afternoon at La Habra High.
La Habra’s Ray Flores splits three Troy players in the first half of the Highlanders’ 1-1 draw with Troy, Wednesday afternoon at La Habra High.

Ruiz felt prepared to stop the penalty after shutting down the Warriors through almost 90 minutes. “Look at their plant foot and guess which way they’ll go and I guess I went the wrong way,” he said.

Neither team was able to take control of the game during the first half. The Warriors had a strong counter attack which allowed the Troy strikers to pepper keeper Ruiz with shots throughout the game.

Fullback Chris Valencia helped the Highlanders recover from the loss of two starters. Senior Joe Salinas was unavailable because he received a red card in the previous game against Sunny Hills, and Kolby McInally was sick with the flu.

Valencia’s energy throughout the game helped inspire the rest of the team.

“Chris Valencia really stepped up today,” Nazer said. “The bench stepped up and played really well and played with heart and desire.”

Valencia’s performance today was noticed by Coach Earvin Aleman who also mentioned his performance.

“He’s always there, his energy is always there,” Aleman said. “These past few games he’s been really consistent… if you see one guy trying, it brings up the entire team.”

The Highlanders meet the Sonora Raiders, Friday at 3 p.m. at Sonora High School. The Highlanders will look to get into the Raiders’ heads in order to secure the victory.

“Within a team, if you get into their heads and you start touching and you start creating chances, they start getting hot headed and they start turning on one another,” Aleman said. “I think if we take it to them and we get a quick goal, we could potentially win.”

Started in 1995, the La Habra Journal is an independent community news source serving the cities of La Habra and La Habra Heights.