The Auburn Riverside boys soccer team finished in second place of the NPSL after a 2-2 draw against the Kent-Meridian Royals at French Field on May 2.
“Everything was on the line in this game. You want to have that high district spot and not have to win, win your way through. I think that was a motivating factor,” Head Coach Randy Jones said.
Over its last five games, the Ravens have tied their opponents in four of those games. The one non-draw was a 1-0 win over Auburn.
Since the Ravens finished in second place, they will play a win-and-in game May 6 (after press time) for the state tournament on the road at Silas High School.
Kent-Meridian came out aggressive against the Ravens — and had the majority of possession and applied pressure to Auburn Riverside. The game served as a sort of preview of what’s to come for both these teams in the postseason.
“We have to stick together as a team,” said David Perez. “Whether there is 10 minutes, five minutes or another 40, we got to stay together.”
But in the second half, the Ravens brought it. A play that resulted from a throw-in found a bicycling Daniel Hernandez — whose pass found a diving head of Emilio Calvario for a high quality first goal. The 1-0 lead in the 54th minute would only last five minutes.
The Royals responded with a goal in the 60th minute. But the Ravens answered the call and within the same minute, they flipped the Kent-Meridian momentum.
A goal by David Perez made it 2-1 after he got on the end of a Raven cross. It was the last goal the Ravens would score in the regular season, and Riverside seemed to have sealed the game.
“That was big goal for us. Obviously I was hoping we could hold on and get the win, but they’re a good team… But it felt good though,” Perez said.
Responding right after conceding a goal is something the Ravens have struggled with this season.
“We weren’t always able to do that… We talked before the game that you have to beat their intensity,” Jones said.
But then Kent-Meridian stole the momentum right back and netted the equalizer once more.
From the 63rd minute on, deadlocked at 2-2, the teams were desperate for the winning goal.
The Ravens attacked wide and found success taking the ball down the sidelines, and giving the Royals keeper a difficult night to keep them at bay. Riverside had two great chances, but were equally matched by the skill of the Kent-Meridian goalie. Coach Jones gave a lot of credit to his backline for their season: “We’ve only lost two games this season and both were 1-0, and our defense has always held on. They’re one of the reasons we have all the wins and ties we have,” he said.
For Perez, he’s going to give everything he has to help his team win.
“I just got to come out there for all 80 minutes plus extra time and give my all for my teammates, everyone that’s out there supporting me, for my school. As a team we got to be out there united as one,” he said.
Riverside takes on Silas at Silas High School with kickoff at noon May 6.