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PREP BOYS SOCCER: Lassiter sends Great Oak to late victory

03/04/2013, 1:57pm PST
By By JEFF SANDERS - jsanders@californian.com

TEMECULA -- From its coaching staff down to its roster, Great Oak's boys soccer team has a new look this season. The results, however, are plenty familiar.

TEMECULA -- From its coaching staff down to its roster, Great Oak's boys soccer team has a new look this season. The results, however, are plenty familiar.

Sophomore Ariel Lassiter capped a wild comeback Friday night, scoring the go-ahead goal inside the final two minutes to send the host Wolfpack to a 2-1 victory over Murrieta Valley in a Southwestern League contest.

"You don't like to leave it that late, but sometimes that's the way the game turns out," Great Oak assistant coach Brandon Owens said. "We played a great second half. In the first half, we were OK, but (Murrieta Valley) was on top of us.

"In the second half, we really showed some true grit."

Owens and new coach Adam Skumawitz -- who was out of action Friday with an illness -- are finding their new team has plenty of that to go around, even after graduating a good portion of a roster that won the school's first section title in 2009 and advanced to the quarterfinals last season.

Murrieta Valley out-shot Great Oak, 9-4, in the game, possessed the ball for much of the first half and had a stronghold on a 1-0 lead when senior forward Chris Sanders wheeled on a ball from 40 yards out and dropped it over keeper Sal Bortcosh for the game's first score.

That advantage stood until the 59th minute when Nighthawks goalie Alex Montion -- on the heels of a brilliant stop -- drew a yellow card on a slide tackle inside the penalty box on a call that drew an argument, and another yellow card, from Nighthawks coach Matt Stratton. Back-up Scott Singleton, nonetheless, entered the game for the penalty kick and Chris Gaitan punched it past the new keeper for the equalizer.

"It's a PK," said Stratton, whose team fell to 12-4-1 and 1-1 in league. "As a goal keeper, you're not supposed to ever get them. The pressure is on the shooter."

Added Stratton:" That's our game -- possess and out-shoot and out-work people. We out-worked them for most of the game, and sometimes soccer is a game where you get lucky.

"Today, they got lucky."

Thirty minutes later, the ball bounced Great Oak's way again, this time on the counterattack of a botched set piece after the scoreboard operator stopped the clock with 2 minutes left in the game. The Wolfpack cleared the ball to midfield, where Angelo Marina collected a pass on a two-on-two breakaway and flipped it forward to Lassiter, who punched the ball past Montion for the game-winner a minute before the referee whistled the end of regulation.

"Our mentality is to keep it 10-0 for the year," said Lassiter, whose team improved to 2-0 in the Southwestern League and 9-3-2 overall. "We wanted to win this game. We knew what was at stake. We know the other players (at Murrieta Valley), so it was a rivalry for us. It was big for us to win."

Especially coming from behind and scoring the game-winner without knowing the official time left on the referee's watch.

"It's crazy," Marina said. "Everything's fast-tempo. It's an adrenaline rush, especially when you come back from a 1-0 deficit and come back for the win."

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