Mustangs muster comeback to continue special season with a 4-2 stunner.
By JAMAL THALJI
Published February 13, 2004
TRINITY - Down 2-0 in its first-ever soccer playoff game Thursday, Mitchell's dream season was turning into a nightmare.
Then the Mustangs woke up.
In the last 24 minutes Mitchell rallied to score four unanswered goals, stunning Lake Gibson 4-2 in its Class 5A region quarterfinal at Mustang Stadium.
"I don't know what happened at the end of the game," said Ryan Villiard, whose two goals ignited that rally.
"As soon as we get the first goal, we feel like it's ours."
A school-record 12 wins, district title and now a come-from-behind playoff victory?
"It's just been a special year," coach Pio Rizzo said. "I've been using that word all year. We said, "Why not us?' We have just as good a chance as the rest of the 32 teams. Why stop?"
Lake Gibson's Rocky Gifford gave the Braves a 2-0 advantage, scoring in the first half and then adding another to open the second half.
On the brink of elimination, it fell once again on Villiard to bring Mitchell back from the edge. He scored in the 56th minute off an assist from J.D. Barksdale. The lead was cut to 2-1, and the Mustangs seized control.
"Soccer is a game of momentum," Rizzo said. "Once we made it 2-1, they believed we could score. The first one is always the toughest to get, and then we started rolling."
Villiard had Lake Gibson reeling in the 64th minute. Mike McDevitt launched a 30-yard rocket at Braves keeper Nico Mercado. A great save was wasted when Villiard put in the rebound from 6 yards out to tie it at 2.
Barksdale scored the winner in the 76th minute, taking advantage of a Mustangs scrum in front of the net, blasting the ball in from point-blank range to make it 3-2.
In the final minutes, with Lake Gibson on an all-out attack, Mitchell took possession and raced unopposed to the Braves' goal. Glenn Josephik faked out the keeper with a deft pass left to a trailing Andrew Dematos, who scored the fourth goal. That 4-2 lead ignited a celebration on the Mustangs' bench.
Mitchell (12-2-5) advances to its first region semifinal and will host Gaither, a 4-1 winner over East Bay, at Mustang Stadium on Tuesday.