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Huskies take down Selah in OT, advance to CWAC final

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | May 4, 2024 2:24 PM

OTHELLO — Othello reached the Central Washington Athletic Conference district final for the third consecutive season after mounting a comeback against Selah on Thursday, defeating the Vikings 3-2 in overtime.

“We had a really slow start in the first 15 minutes,” Othello head coach Bernie Garza said. “There was no energy, but in the last 20 minutes, we were on fire. The guys were motivated, the guys were excited, firing on all cylinders. We were still down 2-1, but we found a way to get the second goal.”

The Huskies struck first with a goal from junior Ruben Mancilla in the eighth minute, but Selah tied the match at one before halftime. The Vikings scored the equalizer off of a corner kick.

“The ball’s bouncing around, we couldn’t clear it and then their forward just walked it in — we didn’t mark him, and he just walked it in,” Garza said. 

Selah went up 2-1 midway through the second half after an own goal on Othello, as the Huskies attempted to clear the ball but instead, it deflected off a player and went back into the net.

“We cleared it, and it hit one of our defenders and went in; it was a ricochet, just boom-boom,” Garza said. “Hit the back of somebody’s leg and went in for an own goal.”

Othello tied the match in the 72nd minute on a goal by senior Felipe Haro, who chested the ball into the Selah net to make the score 2-2. As neither team could score in the final minutes of the second half, the match went into overtime.

Garza said the message to the team before overtime was to look for and take advantage of opportunities.

“In the first half we had three or four open (opportunities) — the goalie’s not even in the box, one-on-one breakaways, headers in front of the goal — we could have been up 5-1 and totally blown the game out of the water, but we kept it close by missing opportunities,” Garza said. “I told them, ‘All you need to do in front of the goal is score.’ Take advantage of opportunity.”

It didn’t take long for Othello to score, as an opportunity presented itself to junior Asaph Alfaro in the first minute of overtime; A Selah defender fell after stepping on the ball, and Alfaro quickly moved in for the strike.

“Right when he fell down, (Alfaro) one-timed it between the goalie’s legs and scored the game-winner,” Garza said. 

Garza credited the play of goalkeeper Aksel Jebsen for keeping Othello in the game down the final stretch of regulation, defending several Viking runs at the net.

“Aksel (Jebsen) came up big during the last 10 minutes to keep it a one-goal deficit,” Garza said. “It could have been 4-1 or 3-1 late in their favor.”

With Thursday’s win, Othello will face off against East Valley (Yakima) in Tuesday’s CWAC district final at Rich Leenhouts Stadium in Grandview. This is the third consecutive season the Red Devils and Huskies have met in the district final, with East Valley winning the prior two matchups. East Valley also won both games against Othello this season; a 4-0 win on March 19 and a 1-0 win on April 9.

“It’s going to be a battle of strategy,” Garza said. “What we can do against them, and what they can do against us. It comes down to whoever makes a mistake and are you going to make them pay for it.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com

Box score
SEL: 1-1-0 2
OTH: 1-1-1 3

    Othello junior Ruben Mancilla (1) scored the game’s opening goal in the 8th minute against Selah.
 
 
    Othello players move in to defend against a Selah attack in Thursday’s district playoff game.