White Salmon capitalized on late chance in 1-0 win over Hoquiam

Saturday’s non-league boys soccer match between Hoquiam and White Salmon-Columbia was about chances and opportunities.

Both teams had plenty of both, but the Bruins capitalized on their last chance to grab a 1-0 win over the Grizzlies at Sea Breeze Oval.

White Salmon’s Finn Coffin scored the match’s lone goal in the 80th minute, turning an inevitable non-league draw into a win off a long ball from midfield.

“It was a non-league game and we could have gone for the tie, but no one likes a tie,” HHS head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “We took a gamble and went forward. Just one little counter-attack did it. It was a nice game. We got a good quality opponent to come here, so that is good, too. Now, Monday’s game (against Elma) is important.”

The chances were there for both teams. Hoquiam nearly set the tone of the match in the sixth minute. Off a Conner Darras free kick that tricked White Salmon goalkeeper Federico Borgonovo, the ball rebounded right to junior Naz Mazariegos at point-blank range at the left post.

Mazariegos, however, misfired his shot — it skidded off the side of his foot — and the ball went across the face of goal before going out for a goal kick.

The chance, however, opened the flood gates for Hoquiam (7-4 overall) in the first half. However, Borgonovo made several saves and watched his teammates threaten at the other end of the rain-soaked field.

The Bruins’ best chance, however, came in the final minute of the match.

Hoquiam goalkeeper Johnny Smith shut off several White Salmon chances and runs throughout the contest. With the match entering the final minute, it was a long ball from midfield that caught them. Coffin, running on the left wing, ran onto the ball with four Hoquiam defenders chasing him.

Smith initially came out to play the long ball, but retreated to close off the goal. Coffin didn’t notice as he fired a lofting 16-yard shot into the right side of the net for the goal.

“We took a gamble and it didn’t pay off, but we had plenty of chances on the other end,” Sanchez said. “Now, White Salmon was missing a player and they took a 4-0 loss to La Center (last week). So, we have a good measuring stick to see where we are. Right now, we just have to be mentally better. For whatever reason, we are lacking that right now. That starts with me. I need to find a way to get the best out of these guys.”

Hoquiam entered this match with a different lineup than in games’ past due to injuries. Missing senior defender Oscar Joya due to injury, the Grizzlies mixed up their lineup and placed different players in different positions at various times in the match.

Notably, 6-foot-4 senior Gregory Dick moved from the defensive back line into a solo forward position. He made White Salmon’s defense work to cover him with several runs and dangerous shots. With Dick up front, the defensive back line was shuffled throughout the contest.

On Monday, Hoquiam will start a key series of Evergreen 1A League matches at home against Elma.