Lane has been the gold standard in this year’s Public League. The Indians have brought pride and recognition to a league often hungry for validation.
It also means everybody else has them in their sights.
The No. 2 Indians dominated play yet still found itself having to pull out a hard-fought win as senior defender Marco Ramirez scored on a penalty kick for Lane’s 2-1 double overtime victory over Young in the Public League semifinal Tuesday night at Lane.
“We learned we have to finish our opportunities,” Ramirez said. “If we finished our opportunities better, we’d have ended it a lot sooner.”
Qualifying for its third consecutive final, Lane advances to play the winner of the Solorio and Lake View game Thursday night at the Kroc Center.
Young appeared out of the tournament on Saturday after the Dolphins lost to Mather on penalty kicks. But Public League soccer coordinator Thomas Smith confirmed Dolphins’ coach Ian McCarthy’s allegation Mather used an ineligible player.
Young matched Lane in intensity and toughness. Ramirez’s game-winner occurred after Young ruled to have committed a hand ball in the box.
“Lane wasn’t even calling for a hand ball there,” McCarthy said.
Ramirez stepped up for his third goal of the year.
“I felt like I could score, so I just took it,” he said. His left-footed blast curled inside the near post a little over two minutes into the second overtime.
“It’s just confidence. If you know you’ll score, you’ll score. I just picked a spot, I made sure the ball got there as quickly as possible.”
Lane (19-1-2) dominated possession and shots on goal. Coming off a hat trick he recorded on Saturday against Prosser, senior Sergio Fuentes stayed hot, breaking through with a short rocket shot from an assist from his twin brother Jose Fuentes in the 28th minute.
Lane junior defender Bryan Gramajo preserved the Indians’ advantage when he made a spectacular sliding clear off a breakaway by Young senior Brandon Doby in front of an open net. Early in the second half, Doby and forward Kimal Bilal collaborated on another sequence that again pulled Lane keeper Raudel Rojas out of the goal.
“We played to our strengths,” McCarthy said. “We’re skilled, too, but we knew we couldn’t match up with them in a back and forth game.”
Young junior midfielder Jaime Alonso produced the equalizer in the 75th minute on a second-touch blast into the upper right hand corner of the net for the Dolphins (12-8-1).
“You have to credit Young,” Lane coach Andrew Ricks said. “Coach McCarthy gets the most out of his players and he knew what he had to do, and they bent but didn’t break. It’s an emotional game.
“When you get into conference and the city playoffs, it’s different because everybody knows you. They see you’re ranked, everybody knows about it, and and they want to beat you more. Young also wanted to amend that 3-0 loss from a couple of weeks ago. Now, it’s different, because it’s more personal, and it brings out the best in both teams.”
Young junior keeper Jesus Velasco registered nine saves for the Dolphins.