Gross battled with Columbus for over 100 minutes before the Discoverers found open land in the back of the net.
A free kick that turned into a header for the game-winning goal in the second overtime, and an insurance goal six minutes later, stumped Gross for a 2-0 loss in the Class B State Tournament Thursday.
“Credit to (Columbus). They’re a great team,” Gross coach Rick Yanovich said. “We just chased the game. We were running all over the place and they got the goal. We hit the post earlier in the game and played pretty even the whole time, but credit to the boys. They played hard.”
Brandt Vomacka, Luis Jeronimo Valdez, Graham Meyer and Justin Kenney provided the four shots on goal for Gross. The Cougars had chances to put the ball in net, but came up short on the handful of opportunities.
“The final product wasn’t there. The defense, they played great the whole game. We lost the ball at midfield, at times, too easily,” Yanovich said. “We defended for good portions of the game. It’s tough, but credit to both teams for playing a good game tonight.”
Trey Powers, Ben Yanovich and Freddy Cortez provided the solid defense on the back end with Brandon Villanueva stopping eight shots in the net for the Cougars.
“Fred, Ben, Trey and Brandon, in goal, made some quality saves when we had to. They hung in there,” Yanovich said. “They played stout all year. We didn’t allow a lot of goals and almost 90 minutes into the game, they finally got through on a great play.”
The first half was controlled most by Columbus, who out-shot the Cougars 7-2 in the half. The Discoverers missed a few chances in the first five minutes before Vomacka’s shot hit the right goal post for the Cougars in the eighth minute.
Villanueva made a stop in the ninth minute before the rebound went back to a Columbus player who missed wide right of the net. In the 12th minute, Valdez shot from the left was blocked on the right side of the goal resulting in a Cougar corner kick.
Gross missed a chance on the corner kick when the kick went straight into the box and into the Columbus goalie’s hands.
Columbus pushed through in the middle of the half, but Villanueva made three crucial stops in the 23rd, 26th and 34th minute to keep it a scoreless game at halftime.
The second half started pretty even between the two. The Cougars came up with a couple big stops on the defensive end before Gross had a chance to break the tie in the 62nd minute. Meyer and Logan McGrail rushed to a 2-on-1 advantage, but Meyer’s shot was saved by the Columbus goalie.
In the 72nd minute, a ball became loose in the Gross zone leading to a wide-open shot for Columbus but Villanueva threw himself in front of the shot coming off the foot for a block.
No team could find the back of the net before the end of regulation to head into overtime. With five minutes left in the first overtime, Gross had its best chance of the game. Kenney found an open spot in the field for about a 25-yard shot that was fumbled by the Columbus goalie.
Meyer got in position for another shot, but the goalie won the one-on-one battle for possession.
When the second OT begun, fortune went to Columbus, which scored two goals in the last eight minutes to down the Cougars.
“It’s a big stage, big field, big fans, great crowd and atmosphere,” Yanovich said. “We came out a little flat and a little nervous. We settled in, but we didn’t play our game. We didn’t move the ball around enough today. It’s just how it is.”
Gross season ends with a 14-5 record. It’s been a great past four years for the senior class who’ve won just under 50 games in that time. The Cougars are still searching for their first state win since 2000, but Gross and Yanovich looking to continue to make strides forward with the next class of players to come through the program.
“The last four years we have 48 wins,” Yanovich said. “It’s one of the best four-year stretches we’ve had. We’ll be back.”