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Last-second goal turns away St. George’s

SUMNER, Wash. – Nik Avakyan converted his chance. Then he did it again.

It just wasn’t quite enough.

The St. George’s senior forward tied the Dragons’ State 1B/2B boys semifinal soccer match against Bear Creek on a penalty kick with just 5 minutes left in regulation at Sunset Chev Stadium on Friday.

Bear Creek responded just seconds before the final whistle, when Sajan Nauriyal got a toe on a hard crossing pass from Jesse Leuneberger, and Nauriyal poked in the game-winner for a 2-1 victory.

St. George’s will play in the consolation final at noon today. Bear Creek plays in the championship at 4 p.m.

“It’s just really heartbreaking,” St. George’s coach Heidi Melville said, tears welling in her eyes. “I’m just trying to keep a positive attitude. It’s just, just a real disappointment to all my seniors.”

Avakyan stepped up and punched his penalty kick low and hard to the left corner of the net, beating a lunging Blake Denniston, the Grizzlies keeper, for the tying goal. The referee’s whistle blew, however.

One of the Dragons apparently was too close to the box when Avakyan took his kick. The goal was taken off the board, the player moved back, and Avakyan had to try it a second time.

He went right back to the same spot, with a low liner, and scored the goal again.

“We’d had the momentum, were playing well, and got the goal,” Bear Creek coach Chad Pohlman said. “Then they get the penalty kick. Clearly the game shifted at that moment. We were trying to hold on, get the game into overtime. We were fortunate to get one last shot at it.”

Bear Creek had broken the scoreless tie in the 61st minute on a goal by Sam Humphries.

The sophomore forward was in close near the left upright when the ball came back off a deflection. Worrall had just made one of his seven saves. St. George’s couldn’t clear the ball, though, and Bear Creek pushed it back in.

Humphries was there in front to knock it into the back of the net for the first score of the contest.

Bear Creek dictated play throughout. That left St. George’sto rely on counter attacks off defensive transitions.

“That’s the way we play,” Melville said. “We like to get out quick when they are back on their heels.

“We had a few chances, but just couldn’t quite capitalize.”