The desperation for Osbourn Park set in with less than a minute remaining during Friday night’s rivalry match against Osbourn, as forward Lewin Artiga found himself fighting for position in front of the net with his team trailing by a goal. It had been a rough week for Artiga and the Yellow Jackets — two close losses in four days, with a third just seconds away.
But Artiga — his white uniform caked with mud from 79 minutes of a crosstown rivalry game that had a postseason urgency from the opening kickoff — wouldn’t quit. He won possession of a loose ball off a frantic cross and delivered the game-tying goal to help the Yellow Jackets earn a 1-1 draw against the Eagles in a Conference 8 contest in Manassas.
“Honestly, I was just looking around,” Artiga said of his goal, which came with about 30 seconds remaining. “I was actually really excited to tie the game. I had a hope to win it, but not everything goes as planned.”
It had also been a tough 10-day stretch for Osbourn, which opened the season with three losses and entered the match still searching for its first goal.
Osbourn Park (1-2-1, 0-2-1) looked more polished than its rival, dominating the possession and winning scoring opportunities by a wide margin Friday. But Osbourn stunned the Yellow Jackets five minutes into the game after receiving a nifty goal from freshman Jose Guandique, who scored off a rebound, flicking the ball in with the side of his cleat from about five feet out. Then Osbourn (0-3-1, 0-2-1) hung on for dear life, turning back wave after wave of scoring pushes by the Yellow Jackets.
Osbourn junior goalkeeper Christian Solis was perhaps the game’s busiest player, and he needed to be to help his team earn a draw. After Solis fully extended to save a potential goal 18 minutes in, Osbourn Park’s talented senior forward Artiga (12 goals in 2013) missed on two open net opportunities in the 21st and 22nd minutes. Solis followed up those threats with crafty saves late in the first half, snatching a free kick and then batting away a shot by Artiga just before halftime.
“I felt like I had to do what I had to do for my team,” Solis said, adding that Artiga was the primary menace all evening. “We just got the defense ready.”
Artiga finally had his moment when it counted the most, and after he scored, he exhausted himself by making his teammates chase him to midfield in celebration. He had several scoring looks in overtime, including a 25-yard free kick that missed just left in the second five-minute session. Playing in an atmosphere that was more befitting of late May than early April, he was relieved to have salvaged a tie.
“It was a hard, tough game,” Artiga said. “We’ve been on a losing streak. We’re just trying to get back into form. We’re just trying to get back to dictating the play that we had.”