By Lee Horton
Peninsula Daily News
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The winning goal came in the in the 86th minute, during the second sudden death overtime period, on a header by Nic Baird that squeezed in under the crossbar.
Baird's golden goal was set up by forward Ron Welches, who dribbled the ball into the corner before centering it.
“I was just in the middle and I knew Ron has a solid left foot, so he always gets it in,” Baird said after Thursday's game.
“He lost it, but he won it back, luckily. I continued my run and it was just the perfect ball in.”
Sequim coach Dave Brasher said the weather slowed many of his players, including Welches early in the game.
The rain stopped right before kickoff, but the soggy field and the chilling breeze made getting warm difficult and staying warm impossible.
“Ronnie . . . was one of the ones that was cold. I put him in at first and he was barely moving over there,” Brasher said.
“So I pulled him back out and said, 'Are you cold?' He said, 'Man, I'm freezing.'
“But in the second half, he kind of came to life. He had a couple nice runs down here on this side right before the end of [regulation] and down in the corner.”
As the game clock ticked down in regulation and during the overtime periods, the Wolves (8-2) seemed more and more eager to score to beat their rival and maintain their standing near the top of the Olympic League standings with North Kitsap (9-1) and Kingston (8-2).
Sequim's offensive attack became urgent, and Welches was a constant presence in the onslaught.
“The goal at the end was a beauty. Ron worked his butt off to get that ball down in the corner, and a good cross and a nice header,” Brasher said.
“A nice way to win a game where you're frustrated is on a nice goal.”
Port Angeles' defense created that frustration.
“The defense, including goalkeeper Nicholas Emmett, did well throughout the match, holding the Wolves scoreless until the [86th minute],” Riders coach Chris Saari said.
Sequim controlled the ball most of the game. The Wolves had a few shots that barely missed the goal, but most of the their scoring chances were quelled by the Port Angeles defenders or a save by Emmett.
This rivalry showdown was nothing like the teams' meeting last month that Sequim won 3-0 — and barely missed on a few other ripe scoring opportunities — by keeping the Port Angeles defense scrambling.
“You know at home PA's going to bring it. They don't want to be embarrassed or anything. And we've been on a roll, they know we're playing well,” Brasher said.
“They tackled hard, they won a lot of the headers — most of the headers in the back. The defense played real well, I thought, and the goalkeeper was solid — a lot of nice saves.”
Baird credited the Port Angeles defense for slowing Sequim.
“[The weather] was fine. I think they just played their butts off. They gave it a really good effort, definitely gave it a good fight,” he said.
Emmett, along with Ryan Beck, Tristan Isett and Hayden Kays-Erdman were tabbed as the Riders' defensive players of the game by Saari.
Sequim goalie Austin Wagner wasn't nearly as busy as Emmett, as Lijah Sanford or one of the other defenders stuffed every breakaway opportunity by the Port Angeles offense.
“Bailey Collins, our right defender, marked up man-on-man on Jackson May, their threat, and kind of shut him down, I thought; kept him from getting breakaways,” Brasher said.
Both teams have important matches this week.
Sequim can open up a two-game lead over fourth-place Klahowya (7-3) with a win Monday at Sequim High School.
A win by the Wolves also would avenge their most recent loss. They have won seven consecutive games since falling to the Eagles 2-0 in the third game of the season.
“We know we've got to win every game now,” Baird said. “We've got to go for than No. 1 seed, that's really important.”
A Klahowya loss would help Port Angles (5-5), which is in fifth place in the Olympic League, two game behind the Eagles.
The Riders face the bottom two teams in the league this week, North Mason (2-8) on Monday and Olympic (0-9) on Wednesday, before finishing the week Friday against North Kitsap.
Sports Editor Lee Horton can be reached at 360-417-3525 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.