The Ottumwa boys soccer team had 19 chances to score on Burlington and all of them failed, but that doesn't matter now.
What matters is that of their 20 shots on goal, the Bulldogs, Alfredo Gonzalez to be more specific, scored on one of them and that made all the difference. The game was more than 70 minutes old when Gonzalez booted in a goal from the middle of the field that may have deflected off a Grayhound defender before it found its way to the back of Burlington's net.
"I didn't know if it was going in or not," Gonzalez said, "I just had to take every chance I could get because that's the only way you can win is by trying."
The goal proved to be all the offense Ottumwa needed, as the boys hung on for a 1-0 victory in the first round of Class 3A substate.
The Bulldogs played a decent first half -- especially Arny Perez, who made some huge stops at goalie to keep the Grayhounds off the scoreboard -- but the boys really turned it up a notch in the second half.
"We got the guys fired up [at halftime] and they finally understood that this is a game that is devoted to each and everyone of their goals," Ottumwa boys soccer coach Aaron Rose said.
At the start of the year, the coach said, he and his coaching staff had the team fill out some of their goals -- personal and team goals -- and about everyone had the goal of making it to the state final.
"We kind of focused on addressing that each person has a part in this game," Rose said, "They really took that to heart and in the second half they played much, much better."
While Ottumwa was the aggressor for the breadth of the second half, they really took control of the game after Gonzalez's goal.
"We were playing with our heart and we needed to give our fans a win," Gonzalez said. "Once we scored that goal we were going for another goal and we wanted to keep the intensity up, keep the morale up."
"After we got that goal, we buckled down and played like we should have played," Rose added
Alfredo's goal came at an opportune time for the Bulldogs because the boys had just failed to put one in the back of the net after getting a golden opportunity that featured an open goal and a great pass by Ottumwa's Ismar Argueta. It was one of several opportunities, where the Bulldogs, spurred by some great runs down the field, just couldn't put one in the Grayhound goal.
In the first half, it was the Grayhounds who got a lot of good shots on goal. At one point, Trystan Sly got Perez, who had ventured out from the net to contest the Grayhound, in a one-on-one situation that seemed to favor Sly, but Perez managed to prevent him from scoring. He made at least two other saves that matched the aforementioned stop in terms of difficulty.
"If it wasn't for Arny, Burlington would have put more than one chance in on us tonight so Arny had a huge role in our win tonight," Rose said. "There No. 11 [Sly] was a good threat for them. He had a couple of chances to seal the deal on us and Arny came up big."
Perez however, had to take an early exit when he was served with a yellow card with 3:25 left in the game. Gonzalez, who had some prior experience at goalie, took over for Perez. The yellow card turned out to be a non-factor, however, as the Grayhounds never got a chance test Gonzalez's goalkeeping skills.
Ottumwa plays at 5 p.m. Wednesday at Iowa City High in the Class 3A Substate semifinals.
Ottumwa 1, Burlington 0
Ottum 0 1 — 1
Burling 0 0 — 0
Ottumwa — Alfredo Gonzalez goal, 71:53.
Burlington: Total shot — 5 Total Saves — 3 (Gauge Pender 3).
Ottumwa: Total Shots — 20. Total Saves — 5 (Arny Perez 5).