Wednesday, August 16, 2006

San Lorenzo nearly defuses the Blast

Local Latinos play Boise dynasty to a standstill

Express Staff Writer

San Lorenzo?s Ronald Aquino stretches it out. Photo by Willy Cook

Last weekend's big surprise during the 30th annual Ketchum Classic men's soccer tournament was Hailey's San Lorenzo team—a winning mix of quick Peruvian muchachos seasoned with four gringos who contributed to the diversity and also to the play on the field.

It was the fifth straight Ketchum Classic appearance for San Lorenzo, a local Latino team started by an Argentine player. But San Lorenzo had never really done much, winning only three of 12 games in its four Ketchum tourneys.

That all changed Sunday.

Unheralded San Lorenzo, skilled at the passing game, stubborn on defense and quick on its feet with low centers of gravity, ended up in Sunday's championship game of the 10-team meet against the Ketchum Classic's biggest dynasty—nearly unbeatable Boise Blast.

As it turned out Boise Blast slipped past San Lorenzo 1-0, extending its Ketchum Classic winning streak to four straight titles and current unbeaten streak at Atkinson Park to 16-0.

But San Lorenzo was right there the whole way and established itself as a legitimate contender with a 3-1 weekend performance. The Peruvians played together and went higher and higher, más arriba.

They won every which way, taking their first game 1-0, winning their second game 1-1 (3-1) in a penalty kick shootout and capturing their third game in a thrilling 2-1 overtime decision over a very good squad from Missoula (Mt.) Sunday.

Goalie Carlos Curriel was a standout for the Peruvians, while the defense of Marco Hidalgo, Angel Hidalgo, Reno Christino and Jesus de la Cruz was nearly impenetrable. Christino is a 2005 Wood River High School graduate and former Wolverine soccer player who is a currently a sophomore at Tusculum (Tenn.) College.

Up front, the Seattle and Georgetown University tandem of Max Blume and Brooks Lindsay gave opponents fits with their speed. The fourth San Lorenzo gringo was local player Casey Finegan, the former Laurent Perrier women's soccer team coach.

San Lorenzo, one of four local teams in the two-day tournament, was the only one that really made an impression. Tournament host Lefty's Bar & Grill went 2-1 but lost its chance for a semi-final berth with a 2-0 loss to Missoula (Mt.) in Saturday's eye-opener.

The other two local teams, Your Other Lefty's and Restos del Mundo, each went 0-2 and lost by lopsided scores.

Meanwhile, Boise Blast kept rolling along. The Blast won 5-2 over Restos del Mundo and 4-0 over Logan (Utah) on Saturday, then the Blast escaped 3-2 over Jackson Hole (Wyo.) in Sunday's semi-finals on two goals by Jared Larsen and a single goal by Mitch White.

Boise Blast rode the shutout goalkeeping of Jon Gabrielson to victory over San Lorenzo in the championship game.

It was scoreless at halftime. About 13 minutes into the 40-minute second half, Boise's Jared Larsen was pulled down just outside the box. He lined up quickly for a direct kick and ripped it into the San Lorenzo net while the Peruvians were still setting up their wall.

San Lorenzo thought the referee should have waited until its defenders set up the wall and then blown the whistle for a kick. Larsen disagreed. He said, "They kept saying to the ref, give us 10 yards! But I told the ref I didn't want 10 yards because I was ready to go."

San Lorenzo's path

Shouts of "uno más" started Saturday when Max Blume scored a first-half goal and keeper Curriel tossed the shutout in a 1-0 San Lorenzo victory over Boise Krajisnik.

San Lorenzo (9 points) won Men's Pool #1 Saturday evening with its shootout win over NewPark of Park City, Utah. Ronald Aquino tallied Hailey's regulation goal. Aquino, Brooks Lindsay and Oscar Riquelme made the shootout goals in the 3-1 decider as Park City ended up 8 points.

The surprising outcomes put San Lorenzo up against Missoula in Sunday's semi-final. Missoula looked very strong in its 2-0 triumph over Lefty's Saturday morning and there was every reason to believe Montana would advance.

Missoula, with its 2-0 win over Lefty's and 4-1 decision over Logan to its credit, started out well. Former Univ. of Wisconsin/Green Bay player Kyle Sillars made it 1-0 Missoula at half and keeper Nick Doherty kept San Lorenzo on its heels with his booming goal kicks.

But San Lorenzo never gave up. Aquino finally stuffed a shot into the Missoula net with 35 minutes gone in the second half. The goal gave San Lorenzo incredible momentum, which they took into the first 10-minute golden goal overtime period. San Lorenzo exerted tons of pressure. Blume and Lindsay had great chances.

It went into a second 10-minute overtime and San Lorenzo didn't wait long. Local hero Christino split the Missoula defense in the middle of the field and sent a perfectly-placed pass ahead to Jesus de la Cruz. De la Cruz made no mistake with two minutes gone.

And San Lorenzo celebrated.

Missoula's Mike Birnbaum who played college soccer at Seattle Pacific University, said, "On paper it didn't look like they (San Lorenzo) could beat us, but they changed things up and played well."

Lefty's wins twice

Only four teams have won the Ketchum Classic in 11 years—Boise Blast six times, Lefty's Bar & Grill in 1999 and 2001, Park City in 2000 and 2002 and Fast Eddy (Ogden) in 1998.

Missoula looked like it could join the elite group with its convincing 2-0 win over Lefty's Saturday morning. Sillars scored at 23 minutes. Gabriel Ansah and Birnbaum exploited a Lefty's defensive breakdown for the insurance goal at 72 minutes, Ansah scoring.

Doherty earned the shutout in the net for Missoula while Lefty's keeper Drew Detwiler also made some good saves. Lefty's coach Olin Glenne said, "We played great the first 20 minutes and were a little unlucky. We took about 10 shots but only one on goal. Missoula is a good team. We got more deflated as the game went on."

The shutout loss meant that Lefty's needed a minor miracle to emerge as one of the top two teams from the five-team Pool #3 that included Missoula and Boise Blast. Even a 5-2 triumph over Restos del Mundo of Hailey later Saturday didn't help.

Against Restos del Mundo, John Campbell of Lefty's cashed in on a penalty kick at two minutes. Restos equalized at 1-1 at 22 minutes when Enrique Hurtado passed to Miguel Vega on a well-played set piece off a 20-yard direct kick.

In this game, however, Lefty's had the services of veteran striker Dom Conti from Oregon State University, and Conti's presence started paying dividends from the time he stepped onto the pitch. He stole the ball from the Latino defense and tapped one home for a 2-1 Lefty's lead at 23 minutes.

Lefty's Roman Rozmanek took a cross pass from Greg Gvozdas and scored for a 3-1 lead at 32 minutes. Miguel Vega tallied his second goal on a free kick that deflected into the goal off the Lefty's wall for a 3-2 game at 37 minutes. But it was all Lefty's after intermission.

Chatham Baker made a nice run down the left wing and chipped a centering pass to Robin Sarchett, who scored at 65 minutes. Speedy striker Campbell outran the Restos defense and hit the post at 72 minutes. Campbell got another chance on a build-up from Raul Feneson and Sarchett and Campbell tapped in the final goal—his second of the game—at the 75-minute mark.

In Sunday's friendly match against NewPark of Park City, Lefty's won 3-1 on goals by Kurt Funkhouser, Campbell (from Nate Schwing) and Shaun Kelly (a brilliant goal in the box off Funkhouser's corner kick). Mark Timm tallied for Utah.

Tournament sponsors were Lefty's, KB's and Sun Valley Insurance.

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