by: Julia Rivera
The Hamilton High School boy’s soccer team defeated Harrison High School 4-3 in overtime Monday night to advance to the second round of playoffs.
Hamilton got on the board first when senior Lupe Olivia scored off a pass from senior Alvin Mantey with 21:52 remaining in the first half. Harrison responded less than five minutes later with a goal of their own off a direct free kick. Hamilton attempted to battle back but a series of calls against the Big Blue interrupted the momentum and the Wildcats were able to capitalize on it, scoring again at the 13:09 minute mark. Harrison lead Hamilton 2-1 going into halftime.
Head coach Jeff Wolkoff said: “[The first half] was our worst half of soccer we played all year so it was frustrating. We just played bad it is what it is.”
Hamilton came out strong in the second half, with accurate passing and good communication. Wolkoff said: “I lit a flame underneath their butts and we came out strong. The fact that there were two [penalty kicks] in the game blows my mind but again, all year long we were faced with adversity, [and] again we overcame it.”
Less than 3 minutes into the half, Olivia was able to beat the Wildcat defenders to score again to tie the score at 2. Harrison continued to push deep into Hamilton territory and was able to score once again off a direct free kick with 30:07 remaining in regulation. The game remained scoreless until senior Brandon Lechuga was tripped and Hamilton was awarded a direct free kick. Olivia took the shot and was able to sink it in the bottom left corner to tie the game for the second time, 3-3. Both teams had opportunities to score in the remainder of the half, but neither could capitalize on those chances and the game went into sudden victory overtime.
Sophomore Ebiel Gamino’s lead pass to Mantey allowed him to score the game winning goal less than five minutes into overtime. The bench cleared as the team celebrated the victory and chance to continue in the tournament.
Mantey said: “God made a promise to me that this year we were going to go somewhere. Throughout the season we kept losing games and we almost didn’t reach our goals but I kept believing. Just before the second half my brother, [Kelvin], came up to me and was like ‘You just gotta believe’ and I believed.”
The Big Blue takes on Milford at home Oct. 20 at 7 p.m. The last time the two teams faced off, Hamilton came out on top 3-2.