Despite a valiant effort, the Albany High Mens Soccer team was defeated Saturday by the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons in the North Coast Section Division II Championship.
The seven-seed Cougars, who overcame many challenges this season, including a head coaching change, were greeted by a packed Cougar Field crowd for the match.
The nine-seed Dragons drew first blood in the fifth minute of play, a penalty kick that just skipped by senior keeper Ryo Huntamer for the 1-0 lead.
Led by beautiful back-and-forth play between senior captains Gabriel Borges and Andre Alvarez, the Cougars responded two minutes later with a Borges equalizer, 1-1.
In stoppage time before the end of the half, a rebound of a Borges penalty kick was put in by senior Romario Pena to give Albany a 2-1 lead.
The Cougars were a bit sloppy in the second half and the Dragons countered with a goal in the 47th minute to tie the game. O’Dowd took the lead for good with an unanswered goal in the 54th minute.
The Cougars were unable to come back after the goal, due in large part to aggressive defensive play by O’Dowd that neutralized Borges and Alvarez, and the rest of the Cougars.
Despite a final valiant effort by the Cougars, their desperation attempts at a late goal were thwarted, giving the Dragons a 3-2 win and the NCS Championship.
Though finishing second, the Cougars advanced further than any previous Albany soccer team.