LYNN — The Classical and English boys soccer teams battled back and forth for a full 80 minutes Monday evening at Manning Field, and it was only fitting that the rivalry game ended in a 1-1 draw following a dramatic last-second goal from Classical.
“We’re a team that always believes we’re in it, and (Monday) was no different,” said Classical coach Eric Moreno Jr. “It was an incredible game and English is a great team. We really had to dig deep for this one.”
“It’s obviously not a great way to finish, to have the lead and end up in a tie with seven seconds to go, but give credit to Classical,” said English coach Kerry King. “We came out flat early, but we got our feet under us eventually and played a good game.”
Jenner Robles scored the lone goal for Classical, while Maycol Marroquin Soto had one assist. English’s goal came from Chris Lazo on an assist from Alberto Ampudia.
The two teams battled to a scoreless tie in the first half, but there were plenty of scoring chances to go around. Classical came out hot over the first several minutes of the game, pushing the pace and getting a number of scoring chances. English settled down about 15 minutes into the game and got some chances of its own, but both teams came up empty when the halftime buzzer sounded.
“We hadn’t played in 13 days, and it really showed early in the first half,” said King. “We were sluggish at the start, but we were able to eventually create some opportunities and cash in on one of them.”
“We felt like we really took control in the early part of the game and we got a lot of chances, but we just couldn’t knock anything home,” said Moreno Jr. “At the same time, English was aggressive on the counter attack so we had to be aware of that.”
In the second half, English got things going quickly. Just over eight minutes into the half, English took the ball into the offensive zone and started to move it around. When the ball came to Ampudia he slipped a quick pass to Lazo, who was waiting just outside the left post. His shot was initially slowed down by Classical goalie Isaiah Diaz, but he didn’t quite get enough of his hand on it and the ball bounced into the net to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 lead.
The score remained there until the final minutes of the game, when Classical started putting lots of pressure on the English defense in a last-ditch effort to get a goal. That effort paid off in the final seconds, as Classical earned a corner kick with just over 10 seconds to play. Marroquin Soto quickly rushed to the corner and sent a high, lofting pass into the box. Robles cut into the box and jumped up for the header, which he successfully knocked into the back of the net to tie the game with just seven seconds left in the game to secure the tie.
Next up for Classical (12-2-2) is Revere on Wednesday (4).
“We told the guys that this game would feel like a state tournament game and it lived up to it,” said Moreno Jr. “At the end of the day, if this was a tournament game we would’ve forced overtime and had a chance to win, so there are a lot of positives we can take from this game.”
English (11-0-2) has a chance to lock up the Northeastern Conference title with its next win, which would be the Bulldogs’ first league title since 1983.
“We have a two-game lead in the conference with three games to go, so we’re sitting in a good spot,” said King. “That being said, we want to lock this thing up in our next game.”
The Bulldogs take on Salem Wednesday night (7).