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Prep soccer: Day saved for Canyon

Canyon goalkeeper stops late penalty kick to earn a tie

Posted: February 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: February 9, 2011 1:55 a.m.

West Ranch midfielder Ashton Kolander (16) fights for a header with Canyon’s Bonifacios Rojas on Tuesday at Canyon High School. The game ended in a 1-1 draw.

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As Canyon goalkeeper Robert Nudya made his way off the field after a boys soccer matchup against West Ranch, he just couldn’t hold back his emotions.

He had just made the save of his life and preserved a 1-1 draw on Tuesday at Canyon High.

In the frantic last few minutes of the game, West Ranch midfielder Jacob Jordan fired a shot on frame, which deflected off Nudya. Jordan again had a chance at it, but as he went for the ball again, he was knocked down from behind, garnering a penalty kick.

West Ranch midfielder Lucas Reilly booted it to his right, and Nudya fully extended in a diving save.

After the game, the freshman was swarmed by his teammates.

“It was tears of joy,” Nudya said. “I was just so shocked I saved it and so happy I stopped my team from losing.”

By earning a point for the tie, Canyon (8-4-8, 3-2-4) stayed alive in the bid for a top-3 spot in the Foothill League, trailing third-place Valencia by two points.

The Wildcats (10-2-7, 5-1-3) inched within a point of first-place Hart, who lost 1-0 to Golden Valley earlier in the day.

“Their keeper made a great play diving for the stop,” said West Ranch head coach Mo Burgess. “What are we going to do?”

Canyon got on the board first when Bonifacios Rojas knocked in a ball which came off the hands of West Ranch goalkeeper Alex Manzo.

A crowd of Wildcat defenders lost track of the ball and Rojas kicked it through traffic to put the Cowboys up 1-0 in the 36th minute.

“We had a meltdown on the back line and we didn’t play as well in the second half,” said Canyon head coach Khris Savage. “We dominated the first half.

In the 67th minute, Reilly scored the equalizer from just inside the 6-yard box after receiving a pass from Jordan, who waited until the last possible second to feed it from the left side.

In the final 12 minutes, both teams had promising opportunities, but none better than the PK at the end.

“They fought and fought for those three points, and it was nice to see they weren’t happy with a tie,” Burgess said of his players.

The Cowboys had a 7-1 shots on goal advantage at halftime, but that was evened to 9-6 by game’s end.

Burgess attributed his team’s second-half surge to a change in attitude this year.

“We had an impassioned speech at half,” Burgess said. “It went something like, ‘We have to start winning 50-50 balls.’”

That they did, and it nearly won West Ranch the game.

It was the second time this season these two teams have tied this season, and Savage admitted he was frustrated with the lack of ability to finish off opponents this season.

“The way you win is putting the ball in the back of the net,” Savage said. “And we missed a lot of key things.”

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