Aloha celebrates its upset win over top-seeded Central Catholic
Aloha celebrates its upset win over top-seeded Central Catholic

Senior midfielder Ohm Harape scored from 30 yards out seven minutes into overtime to give upstart Aloha a thrilling 3-2 win over No. 1 seed Central Catholic Tuesday evening in a second-round 6A boys soccer match played at Delta Park.

“I saw open space and thought, ‘I’m shooting,’” he said. “They thought I couldn’t shoot it.”

The left-footed blast, which eluded the diving Central Catholic goalkeeper, put Aloha where it had been most of the match: on top of the team that had been top dog in 6A the majority of the season.

“The kids were very confident today,” said Aloha head coach Enrique Abad. “We kept that confidence in the overtime. We knew we were going to win today.”

Aloha, seeded 17th by the OSAA but No. 9 in the final 6A coaches poll, struck first midway through a first half played end to end. Senior forward Jose Vega corralled a deep ball at the top of the box, maneuvered around a defender and beat the Ram keeper low to his left side.

“We had more skill on the ground,” Abad noted.

The Warriors, who made a run to the quarterfinals a year ago despite finishing sub-.500 during the regular season, added a second goal after halftime when Central Catholic’s keeper could not control Harape’s left-footed strike from 30 yards out. Lazar Djurdevic pounced on the loose ball and drove a shot with pace into the back of the net.

Aloha nearly added a third goal three minutes later when Harape delivered a beautiful right-footed cross across the goal mouth, but the Warriors’ shot from point blank range flew wide of the post.

For nearly the entire match, it looked like Aloha’s two-goal lead would be enough. Central Catholic used its massive height advantage and superiority in the air to create multiple chances but few threatened to get by Aloha keeper Francisco Vargas. That all changed with about seven minutes remaining in regulation, when a ball played into the box was headed several times before sailing towards the Aloha goal. Vargas grabbed it, but it was ruled to have first crossed the line, giving Central Catholic its first goal and renewed determination.

The Rams pressed the attack with time running out and, with less than two minutes remaining, a dangerous entry off of a free kick near midfield found the head of Andrew Elmore, who flicked it into the back of the net. Unbelievably, improbably, Central Catholic (12-2-2) had tied it, forcing overtime.

“It was disappointing,” said Harape, “but we have the mentality to play as a family and stay together. As long as we do that we can beat anyone.”

After Harape’s goal put Aloha on top in the first overtime, Central Catholic again worked to get the equalizer as the match went into the second 10-minute overtime. Junior Leo Poliakoff had a prime chance on a breakaway early in the second stanza, but he lost control of the ball, which skidded on the artificial turf, and his left-footed shot missed wide.

The Rams’ last chance was their best by far. Central Catholic sent a corner kick high once again, where its tall players, like sweeper Fritz Kabeiseman, could get a head on it. Central Catholic did indeed get a head on it and it was a great chance. But Jesse de la Cruz, a call-up from the junior varsity, used his own head to steer the ball off the line to prevent the tying goal. Soon thereafter the whistle blew and Aloha (9-3-4) was on to the quarterfinals.