With the homecoming motorcade waiting in the wings, the Forest Lake Christian boys soccer team kicked off the annual autumn festivities with a thriller.
The final outcome, however, was not what the Falcon faithful had in mind.
Capped by a pair of late goals, the Falcons were bested 4-3 by Delta Christian. Forest Lake Christian couldn’t survive a furious rally by the Saints, who trailed for nearly the entire match before completing the comeback in the 79th minute.
“The boys fought hard. It’s disappointing,” Falcons head coach Steve Koch said. “We needed a win bad, but we were just missing.”
The Falcons have been on the wrong end of numerous on- goal matches recently.
“We’re just one step away each game,” said Koch.
Midfielder Logan Ray started the scoring for the Falcons in the fifth minute, turning a Delta miscue into an early 1-0 lead. The Saints responded 10 minutes later in the 15th, capitalizing on a corner kick with attacker Danny Velazco heading the ball into the left corner to knot the score at 1-1.
Forest Lake Christian forward Hunter Seman made sure Delta’s momentum was short lived. Immediately following a restart in play during the 16th minute, Seman lofted a high, arching shot from 42 yards out. The ball found nothing but the back of the net, putting the Falcons ahead 2-1. Seman pointed to the sky in jubilation as the home crowd erupted and teammates mobbed him running up the pitch.
“I just wanted to have fun you know,” Seman said. “Homecoming is just a fun game.”
Seman followed the wonder goal with another score in the 18th minute.
Taking a pass from Ray, Seman gathered with two touches and knocked it into the right corner with his left foot, just past the outstretched fingers of Saints goalkeeper Francisco Hernandez, capping an abundance of action during which three goals were scored in just under four minutes. This left Delta trailing 3-1.
Following an up-tempo stretch of play with each goalkeeper saving a pair of goals, the defense escalated in physicality. Saints defensive anchor Jaime Romero was given a yellow card in the 28th minute for knocking a Forest Lake attacker to the ground. The intensity grew from there but without any further cards being given.
In the 39th minute just prior to halftime, Delta striker Francisco Valdiva scored on a pass from midfielder Jorge Crisantos to make it a 3-2 contest. These resilient Saints did not stop marching.
The majority of the second half yielded fine defensive play on both ends with the Falcons using tactical, strategic fouls to stop Delta counterattacks and fast-break opportunities. The Saints’ physical defensive front held Forest Lake Christian to minimal chances throughout the final 40 minutes. With 10 minutes to play, Valvida used some fancy footwork while burning three Falcon defenders to put in a heavily contested goal, his second of the game. In one fell swoop, the score was tied 3-3.
After a corner kick was denied, Forest Lake Christian midfielder and captain Colin Moore took the ball coast to coast down the pitch, only to have an on-goal shot swatted away by Hernandez.
Koch praised the play of his team captain Moore, citing his activity and aggressive demeanor.
With the final seconds ticking away, the ball once again found its way to Valvida. With one touch, he launched the ball over two defenders in the left side of the box. With another touch avoiding Falcon goalkeeper Tyler Young, he was able to walk the ball into the net for an uncontested score, putting the finishing touches on his hat trick and lifting Delta ahead for good 4-3 in the 79th minute.
Seman earned a free kick in stoppage time, only to be blocked by the line of defenders, which was the last chance for Forest Lake Christian to equal the score.
With the win, the Saints improve to 4-1-0 in league play.
“I feel bad for the boys,” Koch said. “I was hoping they would get this one especially on homecoming.
“Hopefully next year.”
The defeat knocks the Falcons out of any contention for the playoffs and leaves them with a record of 2-13-3. They have four games remaining. Sacramento Waldorf travels to Forest Lake on Sunday.
Mark Kendall is a freelance contributor to The Union. To contact the Sports department, email email@example.com or call (530) 477-4232.
“We’re just one step away each game.”
— Steve Koch,
Forest Lake Christian coach