On a cool, clear night in Chula Vista, California, the Arizona Sahuaros came to play their second game of their west coach trip. The San Diego Gauchos played gracious host, and didn't let the Sahuaros win, nor lose. Both teams tied 2-2 after 110 minutes of play.
In the first half the Sahuaros started out holding the ball well. But after about the 5th minute things appeared to go San Diego's way. Then in the 7th minute Jorge Macias and Herculez Gomez combined to make a great run into the penalty box. As Macias ran in, Arizona goalkeeper Mark Wilson was ruled to have fouled him, and the referee awarded the Gauchos a penalty kick. Herculez Gomez stepped up to the spot and drove it into the back of the net. Gauchos 1, Sahuaros 0.
After the penalty kick, San Diego showed a new confidence. They won balls in the midfield, and pressured the defense. For the next several minutes, the Gauchos were dominating. But they were unable to convert another goal. In the 24th minute Arizona made a substitution, putting in #15-A.J. Stecker and taking out #26 Rick-Tilmans. Only two minutes later the Sahuaros were able to capitalize on their new formation, and after a succession of Sahuaro corner kicks Gaucho Mark King was ruled to have handled the ball in the area, and the ref awarded Arizona a penalty kick. Sahuaro #10 Boris Teoharevic then made it 1-1 with a successful PK.
The Sahuaros weren't done. Wilson continued to keep the Sahuaros in the game with some great saves. Then in the 38th minute the Sahuaros went up 2-1 with a great goal from the run of play by Alex De Oliveira. The half ended 2-1, and both teams looked like they wanted to continue the fireworks.
Apparently the fireworks did continue near the lockers at halftime, because Gauchos coach Bob Maruca was told not to return to the field by referee Arnold Baldeaux. Coach Maruca and Arizona coach Petar Draskin had some words with each other during the break, and the ref caught the last thing Coach Maruca said, which earned him an ejection. So Gauchos assistant coach Denis Vargas took over, and Coach Maruca watched from the press box.
The view from the press box continued to be exciting. The Sahuaros were pressuring, and had some good chances, and then in the 55th minute Arizona got a break with a long pass to the midfield and almost no Gaucho around to stop Don Koontz from breaking away. But the lone Gaucho to be near the ball was Bernardo Lerma, who had been having an outstanding game in defense. Bernie threw himself into the path of Koontz, and the ref gave Lerma a direct red card. Tempers flared, people were shouting, but the decision stood. In addition to the red card, Koontz earned a yellow card during that same sequence. However, the damage was done, and the Gauchos were down to 10 men.
Yet instead of retreating, the Gauchos actually attacked more the next several minutes. It wasn't long until Herculez Gomez, like Superman, came to save the day by scoring the tying goal in only the 57th minute. Herculez received a great pass from Jorge Macias, and then weaved past two defenders to slot a well placed ball just past the reach of the keeper. And he showed the crowd of about 500 the big red "S" he wears on his chest!
From then on it looked like the Gauchos were up a man, not Arizona. San Diego continued applying pressure, but were not able to crack open the third goal. After 90 minutes, both squads were tired, but continued on to overtime. Both teams did their best to create more chances during the golden goal periods, but after more than one player had to stop with leg cramps, Arizona goalie Mark Wilson could be heard to say "Let's just play for the tie!" So Arizona sat back, and San Diego couldn't get through. So the game did end tied, and both teams seemed happy. Arizona was happy to get a point on the road, after having played 90 minutes the night before, and San Diego was happy to get a point after being down a man for 55 minutes.
The same two teams play each other next Saturday in Arizona. As evenly as they played, and as much as tempers flared, this may shape up to be a very interesting rivalry. Next home game from San Diego is May 11, against the California Gold.
'8 San Diego - Herculez Gomez (PK)
'26 Arizona - Boris Teoharevic (PK)
'38 Arizona - Alex De Oliveira
'57 San Diego - Herculez Gomez (Jorge Macias)
San Diego- 1-Daniel Sirota, 2-Mark King, 4- Juan Nunez, 5- Bernardo Lerma, 3-Kiko Medina, 24-Anthony Medina, 11-Ralph Dartt ('65 17-Mika Pankar), 18-Hiro Suzuki, 13-Kris Larsen ('71 14-Giovanni Guido)('100 15-Amador Flores), 10-Herculez Gomez, 9-Jorge Macias
Arizona: 30-Mark Wilson, 26-Rick Tilmans ('24 15-A.J. Stecker)('62 22-Scott Crowell), 4-Todd Crittendon, 3-Allen Chapman, 23-Andew O'Shay, 8-Brad Moore, 9-Chris Rose, 11-Alex De Oliveira ('104 14-Craig Dziadowicz), 21-Jeff Deist, 5-Eric Flores ('51 19-Don Koontz), 10-Boris Teoharevic