DENVER — Centaurus was determined to make this game have a different ending. Two years straight the Warriors lost to Mullen in the Class 4A soccer playoffs, and they wanted to change the ending to the script.
Two Centaurus goals in a span of 1 minute, 45 seconds toward the end of the first half tied the game and an upset seemed probable. But intermission re-energized the Mustangs, who scored three unanswered goals in the second half to win 5-2 and eliminate Centaurus once again.
“They worked their rears off to tie it up. Halftime came too quick for us,” Centaurus coach Ken Ebersole said. “It would have been nice to have another five minutes because we had them on their heels and they were a little bit flustered.”
Mullen was also stunned. The fifth-seeded Mustangs took an early 2-0 lead on goals by Josh Mascolo and Zeke Anthony and they seemed to be making plans for Tuesday’s quarterfinals.
Then 12th-seeded Centaurus struck twice. First Victor Enriquez scored with 3:15 left in the half to cut the lead in half and then Fabian Meraz took a pass from Luke Niccolls and booted a shot past goalie Daniel Gutierrez to tie it with 1:30 left before the break.
“Everything was so good when we got that goal right before the first half ended,” Meraz said. “Everybody was saying, ‘We have to get this, we have to get this.'”
Suddenly, Centaurus believed and Mullen was reeling. A 10-minute halftime changed things.
“Second half they came out had a couple of good shots right away and we were scrambling,” Ebersole said. “We had them tired at the end of the half and they got the energy back.”
Goalie Ryan Ebersole was forced to make a diving save 13 seconds into the second half, and Mullen had another great chance 30 seconds later. The Warriors couldn’t match the pressure and paid when Eric Morrison scored in the 54th minute to give Mullen a 3-2 lead.
“We gave up the goal and we stopped playing like we did to get us back to 2-2,” Ken Ebersole said. “That was disappointing.”
The Mustangs added two more goals in a span of 3:12 to put it away and send Centaurus packing again.
“We came with a lot of intensity, but they’re a great team,” Meraz said.
Mullen 5, Centaurus 2
At Mullen H.S.
Centaurus (8-8-1) 2 0 — 2
Mullen (10-5-2) 2 3 — 5
Goals (assists) — Cenaurus: Victor Enriquez 37th minute (Jesus Ocampo), Fabian Meraz 39th minute (Luke Niccolls). Mullen: Josh Mascolo 25th minute, Zeke Anthony 36th minute (J.D. Michael), Eric Morrison 54th minute (Mascolo), Morrison 61st minute (Grant Emrie), Cody VanBeek 64th minute, (Kirby Brazelton).
Goalkeepers (Min-Goals allowed-Saves) — Centaurus: Ryan Ebersole (80-5-7); Mullen: Daniel Gutierrez (80-2-4).