Skilled play and intense effort defined the league championship match between the Quincy and Portola boys’ soccer teams last Saturday, making for an impressive game between two very good teams.
The top-seeded Portola Tigers hosted the match and led 1-0 at halftime, but the Quincy Trojans scored three goals in the second half for a 3-1 victory.
In Quincy and Portola’s two previous matches against each other during the regular season, Portola won the first one 3-2, and the second one ended in a 1-1 tie.
To advance to the championship game, Quincy defeated Squaw Valley 8-0 in last week’s playoffs, and Portola eliminated Chester 7-1.
Last Saturday’s title game began with four threatening shots by Quincy’s Zack Vaughan, but two ricocheted off the cross bar, and Portola keeper Juan Hinojosa stopped the other two with leaping saves.
Portola drew first blood with a breakaway score by senior forward Jared Fleischer, who caught a long pass down the left side to get an open shot on goal.
This gave Portola some momentum, and the Tigers got a couple more shots on goal, but good saves by Quincy keeper Garrett Hagwood kept the score 1-0 at the end of the first half.
What was a light sprinkle in the first period became a steady drizzle for a short while after halftime. Portola’s field has good turf so traction remained decent, and the wet grass provided for lots of good slides.
Although trailing, Quincy began the second half with much gusto and quickly began firing on goal. Vaughan had another hard shot ricochet off the inside post.
A few minutes later, Quincy’s Alex Lemnah lobbed a short indirect kick right in front of Portola’s goal, resulting in a hard collision between Vaughan and Hinojosa. The game was stopped, but both players eventually returned to their feet and resumed play.
The Trojans tied the game when Justin Lusk delivered a beautiful cross to Vaughan, who put it in the back of the net for Quincy’s first goal.
The Tigers threatened to regain the lead when Fleischer attempted a bicycle kick that went wide, and then senior captain Mario Juarez fired a shot over the crossbar after a corner kick.
With 13 minutes remaining in the game, Vaughan delivered a perfect pass to Lemnah, who drilled it into the goal to give Quincy a 2-1 lead.
Portola’s final scoring opportunity came from an attempt by Gabe Marquez, who had entered the game just moments before.
Lemnah scored Quincy’s third goal in stoppage time, when he used superb dribbling to get free of several defenders and put the ball in the net. Connor Turcotte was credited with the assist.
Quincy’s Henry Dillingham and Austin Hagwood each nabbed four steals in the match, and Luis Rubalcava-Cunan snatched three.
With Quincy in first place and Portola in second place in the Feather River League, each team qualified for the Northern Section playoffs.
The Trojans matched up against Tulelake in the first round, and Portola faced Redding Christian. The winners of each match will meet for the Northern Section title game Tuesday, Nov. 2, with the location and time to be determined.