PASCO — No matter how many times the Eastmont Wildcats face elimination, they won’t go away.
Hernán Mendoza headed Mauricio Perez’s corner kick into the net in the second overtime to lead Eastmont to a 1-0 victory over Pasco in a Class 3A state tournament opener Tuesday night, giving the Wildcats their fourth straight victory in a loser-out situation.
“I just keep thinking about how this is the fourth loser-out game we’ve been in, and we’re still in and still going,” said Eastmont coach Eric Duffey. “They’re stepping up to the occasion.”
Eastmont now moves on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll meet Big Nine 3A champ Southridge at 1 p.m. Saturday at Kennewick’s Lampson Stadium. Southridge has beaten the Wildcats three times this season, including 3-1 in district play last Wednesday.
Eastmont and Pasco played to a scoreless deadlock until the 87th minute, when a counter attack nearly put Eastmont on top. But a Pasco defender cleared the ball out of bounds, giving Perez a corner kick opportunity.
Perez made the most of it, finding Mendoza, who headed it to the right of the Pasco goalkeeper.
“Usually Hernán’s not on the end of it … but he found the ball right in the middle of the mix,” Duffey said. “He was the right person at the right time. Good positioning and good finishing.”
The Eastmont defense thwarted a number of Pasco threats, and keeper Daniel Romero finished with six saves in the shutout.
“Pasco has a lot of weapons and moved the ball around. They had some good opportunities one-on-one with Danny, and he came up with probably one of his biggest games of the year to get that shutout and keep us in it,” said Duffey. “Anything that was on frame he was all over it. He got beat only once, but Juan Rodriguez sweeped the goal and got it out.”
The win was the third of the year over Pasco for Eastmont, and also its first state tournament victory since 1997.
“I’m extremely proud,” said Duffey of the Wildcats, only two of which are seniors. “They’re showing maturity with the way they’ve handled themselves.
“Throughout the OT we were definitely digging deep. As a team we were hustling on offense and defense making sure we were keeping that pressure on.”
State 1A/2B/1B tournament
Cascade 1, Highland 0
Omar Solis converted a penalty kick in the 47th minute to send Cascade through to the state 1A/2B soccer quarterfinals with a 1-0 victory Tuesday.
The Kodiaks got outshot 12-10 for the game, with Juvenal Avila making four saves to preserve the shutout.
The Kodiaks will play Wahluke in Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Wahluke 2, Okanogan 1
The Bulldogs bowed out of the state tournament with a loss to Wahluke in a game where both teams had their share of good scoring chances.
After falling behind 2-0, Okanogan got on the board with a goal by Justin Rivas in the 60th minute.
The Bulldogs had several good chances to tie the game after that, but could not convert.
“We had a couple of other (scoring chances),” Bulldogs coach Dean Klepec said. “We hit one off the crossbar, and their goalie came out to play one and we barely chipped it over the top. We had a couple others that were just wide.”
Okanogan outshot Wahluke 14-8 for the game.
Royal 4, Brewster 1
The Bears were eliminated in a 4-1 home loss against Royal.
Brewster coach Ernie Santos did not return calls seeking comment.