WWCC men win late

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WALLA WALLA — Freshman forward Cesar Rodriguez scored in the third minute of extra time Saturday afternoon to lead the Walla Walla Community College men’s soccer team to a 2-1 victory over stubborn Whatcom in NWAACC quarterfinal action at Warrior Field.

WWCC will take an 14-1-3 overall record into a semifinal match with defending league champion Peninsula (19-0-2) next Saturday at 6 p.m. at the StarFire Sports Complex in Tukwila, Wash. The encounter will be a rematch of last year’s tournament final, won by the Pirates, 1-0.

Whatcom, which reached the quarterfinal round by upsetting Chemeketa on Wednesday, ended their season 5-9-3.

Saturday’s game was a scoreless stalemate through the first 56 minutes of play.

Warrior sophomore forward Mario Guizar changed that at the 56:37 mark with a run that commenced in the midfield. It ended near the top of the 18-yard box on a left-footed shot he grounded past Orcas’ goalie Andrew Wildfong that creeped just inside the far post.

“We needed that first goal to break the ice,” WWCC coach Chad Bodnar said. “Mario does it a lot. When he runs forward, he’s dangerous.”

Guizar’s goal, his 17th of the season, came two minutes after Whatcom midfielder Caleb Graves was assessed a red card due to rough play. His ejection forced the Orcas to play a man down for the remainder of the match.

Whatcom equalized on a free kick served by Davis Strawn in the 66th minute. His 40-yard effort from the right side of the pitch avoided a scrum in front of the WWCC goal and found the boot of teammate Daniel Pinkerton.

“It (Strawn’s free kick) was misjudged in the back and their guy cleaned it up,” Bodnar said.

Guizar also set up the game winner. He gained possession just inside the 18 and fired a shot that deflected off a Whatcom defender and skidded to Rodriguez, who blistered a door-step attempt into the back of the net that sent the Walla Walla bench and Warrior fans into a state of pandemonium.

“Mario played well when he had to,” Bodnar said. “He came up big.”

Peninsula earned the right to face WWCC with a 2-1 quarterfinal win over Edmonds on Saturday. The Pirates will be seeking their third NWAACC title in four seasons.

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