The Tribe scored twice in overtime to defeat the Mustangs 4-2
TULARE – The Tulare Union and Tulare Western rivalry lived up to the hype last Thursday as the two teams needed an extra period to decide a winner. The Tribe scored twice in overtime to come out with the 4-2 victory.
This matchup will likely go down as a game-of-the-year candidate for both teams. It was a rivalry match with the Mustangs coming in undefeated in the East Yosemite League and the Tribe had only suffered one loss that came in the previous game. The rain was pouring, making the Tulare Western field a muddy slip and slide. The weather was so bad that the junior varsity game was canceled and the varsity game was moved up 90 minutes in fear of the field conditions being too poor to play. That didn’t stop the players from giving it everything they had.
Trailing 2-1, Tulare Western junior Daniel Rodriguez scored in exciting fashion at the end of regulation to send the game to overtime. The extra period was as intense as regulation with both teams going back and forth. To open overtime, the Mustangs had a chance to take the lead on a free kick but Tulare Union’s goalkeeper made an athletic save to keep the game tied. Soon after, the Tribe had their chance at a free kick. They missed, got the offensive rebound but missed again. Soon after, the Mustangs had another good opportunity to take the lead. A player kicked it in from the corner which led to a header, but the Tribe’s goalie stopped the ball.
Tulare Union junior captain Jesus Enriquez finally broke the tie as he received a well-placed pass and worked through the defense before finding the back of the net. To finish off his rival team, he found his teammate Marco Jasso as the two orchestrated a two-person play, which led to Jasso sniping the ball past the goalie to put his team up 4-2. Enriquez has been a large part of the Tribe’s success this season. He leads the team in goals, with nearly 20 more than the closest player, and also leads them in assists. He has scored in each of his team’s 12 wins this season.
Tulare Union scored the lone goal of the first half as they went into halftime with a 1-0 lead. Junior Aaron Ochoa scored off a set piece from a throw in.
“We spent all practice yesterday working on it. We ran it and it worked out to perfection to get us started,” Tulare Union head coach Mike Shaffer said.
They scored once in the second period off a breakaway by Enriquez.
Prior to the game tying shot, Tulare Western’s first goal of the night came from Jason Hernandez. The Tribe’s defense was slow and gave him too much space that he took advantage of.
“For it being Tulare Union vs Tulare Western, I was very happy with the sportsmanship, effort, and heart that both teams showed,” Shaffer said. “Both teams played tough but played respectful and sometimes we don’t have that in these games. It made me proud to be in Tulare and see that.”
The two teams now sit atop the EYL tied at 4-1. The encore to this epic showdown will take place in two weeks on Wednesday, Feb. 5 in the last game of the season. Contrary to the sloppy muddy battle of the first game, the rematch will be played on the turf at Bob Mathias Stadium.
Shaffer deems this victory to be a huge morale boost for his team that was coming off a rough 2-0 loss to Mission Oak.
“We had more shots on goal than them but we couldn’t capitalize which is why we spent all day at practice working on that set piece,” Shaffer said. “It was one of those games where we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
The next time they’ll take the field will be at home on Wednesday, Jan. 22 against Monache at 6 p.m. The Mustangs will be playing Delano at home at the same time.