By Matthew Snyder
International High School’s boys soccer team scored two goals in the final three minutes of game time to earn a 2-2 draw against Lick-Wilmerding in Bay Counties League West play on Wednesday at City College of San Francisco.
Trailing 2-0 with just over 11 minutes remaining, International head coach Carlos Bover brought on sophomore midfielder James Fun as a substitution. Eight minutes later, Fun collected a pass from freshman Rei Dowart just above the center of the 18-yard box and played a pass to his left for freshman Marc Joshua.
Joshua then pushed past a Lick defender and fired a shot past goalkeeper David Allen to cut the lead to 2-1.
The Jaguars grabbed the ball and rushed it back to midfield, and in the final minute of regulation time, they won a free kick just past midfield.
Senior Jose Garduno launched a long ball into the middle of the penalty area, where Allen came out to meet it. The goalkeeper pushed his way through the thicket of bodies to meet the cross, but his two-fisted punch backfired horribly and spun back into his own net, making it 2-2 just before the final whistle sounded seconds later.
“We thought we had nothing to lose, so I told the guys, ‘Let’s go as hard as we can for the last 15, 20 minutes [of the game],” Bover said. “It’s really good to know that these guys always know that they can come back, especially against a team as strong as Lick. We’re very happy.”
While Lick head coach Gavin Birmingham expressed regret that the his team couldn’t hold on for the victory, the draw sealed a playoff berth for the Tigers (8-4-3, 2-4-1). Lick finished tied with Urban for fourth place, but went 1-0-1 against the Blues and won the tiebreaker due to those head-to-head results.
“They’ll learn from this,” Birmingham said. “It was a good performance by us, but just a shame about the result. We just lost our concentration in the last 20 minutes and let them back in with two bad mistakes. They’ll learn that you don’t get many chances in this league and when you do, you’ve got to score. If you don’t, this is what happens – you lose points.”
International (6-6-7, 4-2-3) entered Wednesday’s game with a firm hold on third place in the league standings, behind second-place University and undefeated Marin Academy.
Starting six freshmen and three sophomores, Lick took advantage dominated the final 20 minutes of the first half.
The Tigers hit the right goalpost three times during that opening period, and forced International goalkeeper Gabriel Landaverde into a couple of fingertip saves.
“I think we controlled the first half pretty well,” Birmingham said. “I thought we could have been four or five goals up. It’s really unfortunate. We’ve got to learn from that and bury our chances.”
Lick senior forward Daniel Wong put Lick ahead 1-0 with a swerving right-footed shot from 20 yards out less than a minute after entering the game in the 36th minute and junior Narimon Farhangi doubled their lead in the 67th minute.
But despite conceding that second-half goal, International gradually began to wrest control of the game from the Tigers.
While he didn’t have a hand in either International goal, senior Ted Miclau, who is also an elite diver, played a pivotal role in the fight back. Miclau played in an advanced midfield positio, and his lung-bursting runs into the Tigers’ half created a number of dangerous opportunities.
“[Miclau] is a feisty player,” Bover said. “It’s his energy. He doesn’t even need to talk, because on the field he tries so hard. That makes me so proud. I want some of our kids to see that and learn from that, that this is what we really need. I’d rather have 11 Teds than some other players that might be better technically, but don’t play hard. Ted has a big heart, he plays with it every single game. For us, he’s huge.”