Coaches and teammates surround Poway’s Miguel Berry (center right) after Berry scored the game-winning goal late in the second half against Westview.
POWAY It appeared a pair of penalties would decide the Palomar League boys soccer title.
Deep into the second half, top-ranked Westview High converted its second consecutive penalty-kick opportunity, giving the Wolverines a one-goal lead with 15 minutes remaining.
Then No. 5 Poway snapped to life.
Offsetting Westview’s two scores, the Titans inched past the Wolverines on sophomore forward Miguel Berry’s last-minute goal, capturing the league crown with a 3-2 triumph Tuesday.
“I saw the ball coming, I fought my defender for it and I saw the keeper coming out of the net,” said Berry, who also netted the game-winning goal to clinch last season’s Palomar title for the Titans (14-1-8, 7-0-2).
“I struck the ball much earlier than I planned, but I hit it fairly well. It was deflected a little, but it just created a little more spin on it and it rolled into the net.”
In the first half, Poway senior midfielder Bryce Flores chipped a ball past Westview’s keeper to open the scoring.
The Wolverines (18-3-2, 7-2-1) equalized and took the lead following the converted penalties, both by Christian Gagliani.
“Whether deserving or not, that was a big gut check to us,” said Poway coach Gene Morris. “You feel like everything is against you in that moment.”
Down a goal, Poway turned up the attack. Flores exploited Westview’s shaky defense, securing a through ball, scissoring and pushing the ball back inside before curling it for a 2-2 equalizer.
“Space is everything,” Berry said. “The one-two is the simplest move you learn. It works well. For us, it’s about creating space for each other and trying to get open. It’s just built in. And when it presented itself, (Bryce) and I capitalized.”
The second time came on Berry’s game-clinching, final attempt.
“They were playing timid,” Morris said of the Wolverines. “They were playing scared because if they conceded goals, then they would dig themselves into a hole. It was a must win for them. Even a tie would hurt them. We just had to create opportunities and convert them like we did all season.”