Railers rally to top Salina South
SALINA — Even at their best, the Salina South Cougars can't seem to catch a break.
That, or they're undone by a self-inflicted wound.
That again proved to be the case in their regular-season finale Thursday night when the Cougars took a lead to halftime, only to give up a pair of Newton goals after the break for a 3-2 boys soccer loss to the Railers at Salina Stadium.
"When things aren't going your way, you tend to see mistakes happen," South coach Trey Crow said after a pair of second-half miscues and a precision corner kick by Newton's Santiago Fernandez sent the Cougars to their eighth straight loss. "I thought we played well and connected well.
"I told the guys that this was a good game, other than the result. We just had two breakdowns defensively."
The Cougars, who will take a 5-10-1 record into the Class 5A regionals next Monday or Tuesday, led 2-1 at halftime on Brandon Oaks' goal in the 36th minute off a nifty assist by Jorge Navarro. But after intermission, they gifted Newton the equalizer on a communication breakdown at the back.
It came in the 58th minute, when goalkeeper Gabe Nunez called for a ball in the penalty area, only to collide with his defender, leaving Newton's Jose Torres-Dunnahoo to tap the ball into an open net.
"The keeper called for the ball and the defender got in the way," Crow said. "We took out our own keeper."
The Railers then got the game winner in the 71st minute when Fernandez lined up a corner kick from the left side that curled straight into the back of the net, untouched by the defense.
"We had just taken (a corner) on the other side and one of my teammates said the wind was in our favor," said Fernandez, a senior, who admitted he had never scored directly on a corner kick before in his high school career. "Usually I try to put it on somebody's head.
"That put us ahead and our heads way higher."
Again, South's defense went missing on the play.
"We had a guy there, but he ducked," Crow said. "But the guy make a heck of a shot."
With the victory, Newton wrapped up the regular season at 10-6, 3-3 in Ark Valley Chisholm Trail League Division I. South finished 0-6 in the division.
"That goal came at the right time," Newton coach Scott Jantzi said of the corner. “(South) came out and really did a good job putting pressure on our backs.
"They have a lot of speed and they played aggressively. Our guys just needed to play quicker."
South never trailed until the final goal, scoring first in the 10th minute on a cross into the box from Jose Ortega that went off a Newton defender onto the foot of Navarro in the box for the finish. Newton tied it six minutes later on a Collin Hershberger penalty kick.
South then grabbed the lead before halftime when Navarro took a ball near the top of the penalty and flicked a one-touch pass forward to Oaks for the goal. Nunez made a diving stop on a 25-yard blast toward the left post by Hershberger in the 39th minute to preserve the lead.
Newton outshot South 12-7, putting seven of them on target to five for the Cougars.
Newton will likely play Emporia on Monday or Tuesday. The final pairings will be set Saturday. The Railers clinch the top seed in the regional.
NEWTON 3, SALINA SOUTH 2
First half — SS: Navarro (Ortega assist), 10th minute; N: Hershberger (penalty kick), 16th; SS: Oaks (Navarro), 36th.
Second half — N: Torres-Dunnahoo (unassisted), 58th; N: Fernandez (unassisted), 71st.
Shots — N 12, SS 7. Saves — N 3, SS 4. Goalkeepers — N: Abrego, SS: Nunez.
Junior varsity—Newton, 5-1.
Class 5A, Region 4
Seed points are determined as follows: 2 points for win; 1 point for tie; 0 points for loss. Sum of points divided by (number of games played times 2).
AV-CTL I standings