With just one match left in the season, the Nevada Union boys soccer team inched closer to a second-straight playoff berth after playing Roseville to a 3-3 tie Thursday.
In a match rotten with yellow cards, physical play, missed calls and fans being ejected from the field, the Miners were able to come from behind twice in the second half and earn the draw.
“We got a little complacent at the start,” NU coach Alex Butterfield said. “In the first half, we were a bit sloppy. They got ahead, and it took the realization at halftime that we might be throwing away our playoff spot.”
The Miners went on a furious second-half attack, getting goals from Benn Siemers, Nikolai Breiter, and with four minutes remaining in the game, David Mateos netted the equalizer.
With the tie, NU moves to 4-4-1 in the Sierra Foothill League and into a tie with Del Oro for second place.
“I was proud of the way they played in the second half and the style they played with in the second half,” Butterfield said. “To come back from 2-0 to tie it and again from 3-2 down, it shows a lot of spirit.”
Roseville got on the board first when Joseph Bucher hit an arching ball that curved just past the outstretched hands of NU goalie Zane Weinberger.
The Miners threatened several times in the half, but sloppy play and staunch, physical defense from the Tigers kept NU scoreless.
Roseville extended its lead with a goal just before half when Ryan Kelly lofted the ball into a crowd. Weinberger went up to thwart the attempt but was slammed into by a Roseville player and thrown off his trajectory. The ball landed untouched and slowly trickled into the NU net. No penalty was called on the play.
Trailing 2-0 at half, the Miners came out with a sense of urgency.
Siemers broke the ice with a free-kick goal that slipped past a wall of Tigers and into the net.
As the match continued, the level of physicality increased. Seven yellow cards were issued during the contest, five of which were directed at Roseville.
“Physicality is good, but you don’t want the game to get out of hand,” said NU captain Sean Anderson, “which happened quite a bit today.”
Trailing 2-1, the Miners got the equalizer when Weinberger found Breiter with a long pass. Breiter outran the defense and lofted the ball over the charging Roseville goalie and into the net.
With less than 10 minutes left, Roseville regained the lead after Simon Richardson dribbled across the box and fired a shot past the diving Weinberger.
With just four minutes left in the match, the Miners again knotted the game, this time for good, coming on a Mateos goal. Mateos received a long throw in from Greg Paul and netted the goal after the Roseville goalie misplayed the throw-in.
The Miners will travel to face Woodcreek Tuesday in the final game of the season, which will likely have playoff ramifications for both squads.
“It will be much more difficult at their home ground,” Butterfield said. “They play on a turf stadium, and that suits their game.”
The Miners beat Woodcreek 2-0 in their first meeting at NU earlier this season.
To contact Sports Writer Walter Ford, call (530) 477-4232 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
“I was proud of the way they played in the second half …”
— NU coach Alex Butterfield,
on his team’s late comeback