By Nick Porr
Winless Lake Braddock boy’s soccer stunned National District champions Justice High School in the regional tournament’s first round Wednesday night, winning 5-4 in penalties.
The win comes as a miracle for Lake Braddock who are ranked last in their size class in Virginia by MaxPreps. An upset win on the road over a #1-seed in Justice seemed like a pipe dream.
Justice, despite being the far higher ranked team, chose to play a more direct style of soccer. Defenders and deep-lying midfielders would often opt to send long balls through the air to the attackers instead of building up from the back, stalled by an active Bruin midfield.
The Wolves’ attackers struggled to find crosses from the wing, opting to take the ball past defenders down the wing themselves to little success, often with the ball at the feet of senior Luis Romero Ortiz.
Justice eventually found their form on offense when Ortiz sent a shot screaming past the keeper and into the top of the net with 13 minutes remaining in the first half.
Two minutes later, Ortiz again tactfully dribbled into the box and was sent to the ground by the Lake Braddock defender. Expecting a penalty, fans and Ortiz were shocked to see the referee allow the Bruins to play on.
Lake Braddock pressured Justice early in the second half as they looked to level the score. A strike from midfielder Ruben Garcia-Pardo was just barely reached by the Wolves keeper Ivan Bruzonic, who sent the ball ricocheting off the near post.
Justice responded to the pressure quickly however, pushing their lead to two goals with a tap-in scored by Anthony De Leon after the Lake Braddock keeper failed to contain a shot off of a free kick.
Despite falling behind 2-0, the Bruins weren’t out of the game quite yet.
With 20 minutes left, Teo Dombrovski scored to keep Lake Braddock’s hopes alive.
Just four minutes later Gabriel Ochoa tucked the ball into the bottom right corner of the net to draw the game level 2-2.
With under two minutes left Lake Braddock had looked like they would seal a comeback win but were thwarted by an impressive pair of consecutive saves from Bruzonic.
The two would remain level through the rest of regulation, headed to overtime tied 2-2.
Despite a flurry of chances from both sides through four periods of overtime (two regular, two “golden goal”) there still wasn’t enough to separate the two teams.
Tied 2-2 after a total 100 minutes of play, Justice and Lake Braddock went to penalties.
Both teams made their first four shots before Justice’s goalscorer Ortiz sent a shot off the crossbar.
Masih Faryadi responded with a game winning penalty to seal the win 5-4.
Lake Braddock’s shock win sends them to the regional quarterfinals, where they will meet either Alexandria City or Lewis High School.
Justice is sent packing, ending what looked to be a great season for the program shockingly and abruptly.