Sometimes you’re good and sometimes you’re lucky.
Jon Braun was both Thursday night and that was a major reason why host Waubonsie Valley rallied to beat Metea Valley 2-1 at the Warrior Invite.
Braun had a beautiful assist on Leo Mendoza’s game-tying goal in the first half and then scored on a bad-hop shot early in the second half to record his second straight game-winning goal.
“Jon is a very good player, probably the best on the team,” Mendoza said. “His ability to play a ball and take shots at random and [have them] go in I think is great.”
The win gave the Warriors bragging rights in District 204 as they beat both Neuqua Valley and Metea Valley in back-to-back outings. They also denied Metea a share of the Upstate Eight Valley championship.
Neuqua Valley (11-6) won the division crown outright with a 6-1 record, while the Mustangs (9-9-1) finished 5-2. Waubonsie Valley (8-5-3) was 3-2-2 in league play.
“I’m proud of [the Warriors],” Waubonsie Valley coach Jose Garcia said. “They played a helluva game today. These two teams are really good, competitive teams and I have high respect for Metea and their skill.”
There was more than skill involved in Braun’s goal, which came with 34:19 left in the game on a left-footed shot from 18 yards out. Metea Valley goalie Joe Coryell appeared ready to make the save but the ball took a wicked bounce and skittered between him and the left post.
“I saw I had an opening, so I hit it and it just kind of knuckled a little bit and then it spun and maybe hit a divot or something because it changed direction,” Braun said. “I guess I got a lucky bounce.”
Garcia felt bad for the Mustangs but wasn’t exactly heartbroken.
“Those are the toughest ones to block, the ones that bounce right in front of you,” Garcia said. “It had a wicked curve. We’ll take it.”
The Mustangs, who have scored only 24 goals this season, grabbed a 1-0 lead when defender Brandon Howard headed home a corner kick from Michael Adams at the 33:24 mark of the first half.
But the Warriors tied it just five minutes later, using just two passes to send the ball the length of the field. Braun got the ball on the left side of the midfield and sent a high diagonal ball over the defense to Mendoza, who chested it down at the top of the box, took a couple dribbles and slid a shot past Coryell.
“I was wide open on the side,” Mendoza said. “I was yelling for Jon, who played a beautiful ball. I knew I was top of the 18 so I just chested it and went down and hit it.”
The quick equalizer fired up the Warriors.
“I wasn’t too happy about [Metea’s] goal, but we have some friends on that team, so of course we want to beat them,” Mendoza said. “So after that my mentality was to beat them so we can get bragging rights.”
The Mustangs played well in the second half but Eddie Sanchez made eight saves for the Warriors.
“The ball was down here most of the half,” Metea Valley coach Josh Robinson said. “Unfortunately the goalie made some good saves, a bounce doesn’t bounce our way and we’ve had that story all year.
“I’ve been really proud of the boys and the brand that we play, but it’s a results-oriented business and when results don’t go your way you get a bit frustrated.”