One play can make the difference between ending a season and making a postseason run. For the Bluejays, it was the former, ending Perry’s season on Wednesday, May 22 with a 1-0 loss to Lewis Central.
Any end to the season is a tough chapter but Perry head coach Gary Overla said he couldn’t have been much prouder of the team.
“The kids played like lions today and they fought their hearts out,” Overla said. “You know what, that’s what we wanted all year. We knew what they were and they showed up today. That team will go a long way in state. That’s a pretty good team.”
Those state contenders were a familiar foe for Perry as they came to town for a tournament a couple of weeks ago and handed the Bluejays a 3-0 loss. It was as physical a match as the blue and white had all year, trying to keep up the pace with Central. The same rang true on Wednesday with players on both sides getting grass stains.
“I think we’re a physical team. I mean, we played pretty physically. Coach Pearce does a great job with the kids in the weight room,” Overla said. “We get them in there. And you know, we work pretty hard and I think it shows. The kids did a great job and hats off to Lewis-Central. They outlasted us and they beat this one.”
Like the previous matchup, the scoreboard was stuck on zeroes for over 30 minutes. But unlike that day when Central took a 2-0 lead on a moment’s notice before the first buzzer, Perry held strong and kept it tied at halftime.
Coming out of the gates, both Perry and Central kept the same physicality that made the first half a defensive battle between two stalwart goalkeepers. But as pressure mounted, one shove too hard on Central led to Paul Devine getting a free kick against Mike Eschevaria.
It went in. A matter of five seconds separated the final score.
“You know, they’re judgment calls,” Overla said. “You know that we could have had one down [near the end]. I’m not disappointed in the way the kids played. The kids played like lions today and they fought their hearts out.”
With a quarter of play to go, it became a battle to beat the clock for Perry, an opponent that is rarely defeated. Once the scoreboard hit triple zeroes, it was too late despite Perry’s efficiency getting near goal posts, nearly coming up with two goals in the final 15 minutes with shots from Ever Tobar and Anthony Macias, two juniors with high expectations running into 2020. There’s a high bar set by the outgoing senior class though.
“Everybody loves soccer. You know, they all say they love soccer. But I think these guys truly, truly love it. Anthony (Velasco) and Jeho (Rivera), they’re constantly playing,” Overla ended. “The other guys are either playing, maybe not Club or anything like that, but they’re playing a lot. And these guys brought a love of the game to the team, right. I think it’ll carry on to this next group, this junior group. We’re really excited about them. We really think that next year will shine quite a bit. We just need a couple of missing pieces.”