The final berth to the postseason was on the line when the Huskies and Tigers went at it in Ephrata last Thursday. The winner would nail down the No. 6 seed — the loser would be left thinking what might have been – and such was the case for Othello after suffering a 1-0 loss.
“Its frustrating, disappointing, heartbreaking and sad,” coach Bernie Garza said. “That’s the story of this season. We couldn’t score in close matches when it counted… We didn’t do our job in the middle of the season losing those close matches… 1-0 to Selah… a 1-1 shootout loss to East Valley, and now this game. Very frustrating.”
The Huskies dominated possession in the do-or-die contest and outshot Ephrata 30-6, but failed to convert on any attempt and closed the book on the 2018 season.
The Tigers scored in the 30th minute of the fuss on a set piece off a long direct kick to the 18-yard box that was headed past the outstretched finger tips of a leaping Miguel Silva.
With 20 minutes to go in the match and still no change in the score Garza decided to go on the offensive.
“I took out defenders and put in more forwards and it really made a huge difference, but we just couldn’t score,” he said. “My players played their hearts out, they left it all on the line. We had a successful overall record (10-5-1), but had a disappointing league (4-5 record). No regrets. We finished with pride… but we’re sad this was the last game for seniors.”
The top six teams qualified for the postseason. Othello looked like a sure beat to pull this one off as the Huskies were coming into the contest on a four-game win streak and was playing each one like it was their last, trying to make up for lost ground in the standings. The Tigers were coming into the match off a 1-0 road win at Selah — the Vikings only league loss — and a 4-1 loss at home to Quincy.
Othello (4-5) ended up tied with Ephrata (4-5) for final playoff spot. But Huskies were eliminated because of the head to head loss to Ephrata.
The Huskies will lose 14 seniors, most of who were starters. But they do have seven key players coming back, along with some talented JV players that will move up from the team that went 14-0 this season, so Othello shouldn’t be in a rebuilding mode in 2019.
“We’ll be strong again next year,” Garza said. “We will learn from this season and be better because of it.”