Victoria East escapes with tie against Palacios in home opener

Jan. 16, 2013 at midnight
Updated Jan. 15, 2013 at 7:16 p.m.

On a cold and windy evening at Memorial Stadium, it was one moment and one call that left the Palacios soccer team hot.

They may not have said as much afterward, but the demonstrative disagreement the Sharks had with officials was a clear indication they didn't like how Tuesday's game against Victoria East concluded.

The Titans, playing their home opener on a night when temperatures were in the 30s, tied things 3-3 with less than 30 seconds remaining.

Palacios tried to hold onto the ball, nursing its lead.

The Sharks goalie, Austin Diaz, was called for holding onto the ball for more than six seconds. Though it's technically a foul for the goalkeeper to hold the ball for more than six seconds, it's an infraction rarely called.

East's tying goal would be something that would make American international Abby Wambach smile.

East's Dylan Staff quickly diagnosed the situation and took the indirect free kick at the top of the penalty area. Staff's touch pass was finished by Pablo Aviles to even things up, much to the annoyance of the Sharks.

Aviles' second goal of the game (he scored the Titans' opener in the 60th minute) helped East (1-3-1) avoid losing its fourth game in five tries this season.

"Going to referee school and knowing the rules, I had a sense of urgency to get the ball and start it quick," said Staff, a sophomore midfielder.

In the semifinals of the 2012 Olympics, Wambach told the referee the opposing goalkeeper was frequently taking longer than six seconds to restart play. Trailing 3-2, the Americans earned an indirect free kick, which was soon converted to tie the game. The difference between that game and Tuesday was the time-wasters did not lose.

Palacios soccer coach James Overton declined to comment specifically about the call that snatched the first victory of the season away from the 0-0-2 Sharks.

The surprising finish - Victoria East never led in the game - may have overshadowed another stellar performance from Palacios center forward Mario Contreras.

In two games, the senior has scored five times for the Sharks, including a hat trick Tuesday night.

"It's big because we lost a couple important players last year," Overton said about Contreras' play. "To have him step up this year means a lot to everyone. It means a lot to me and it means a lot to his teammates."

In the sixth minute, Contreras' first shot of the game, from the right edge of the penalty area, squirted under the Victoria East goalkeeper for the opener.



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