HANFORD — The fourth quarter was filled with missed opportunities, point-blank saves and a final game-winner by Hanford West’s Chase Waddell on Tuesday.
The sophomore found himself in the hole when the ball was swung to him with just over two minutes to go. Waddell rose up and found the back of the cage for the final goal and a 13-12 home victory over Lemoore.
“They were kind of double-teaming us, but we managed to get around them and score,” Waddell said.
Waddell scored a game-high five goals followed by teammate Aidan Apgar who finished with four, including three in the second quarter. Forrest Thompson and Logan Flemming scored two goals each.
“Playing Lemoore’s never been pretty,” Hanford West coach Anthony Castellani said. “They’re our rival and they’re well-coached, so it takes a little bit of effort and we persevered. It wasn’t a pretty win, but it was a win nonetheless.”
It was the team’s second one-goal victory in three games. They previously defeated Hanford 12-11 and are now 5-0 on the season.
“It was a lot of work,” Waddell said. “We were all really tired. We had to work hard to keep the win.”
After countering — successfully for the most part — during the first half, the Huskies started to fatigue in the second half. They scored three goals over the final 14 minutes compared to 10 in the first half alone.
“I only yell a couple things at them,” Lemoore coach Joshua Acosta said. “I yell, ‘Swim’ and ‘Get the ball’ and that’s what we try to do. That’s it.”
Hanford West (5-0) led the non-league contest 10-7 entering the third quarter, but Lemoore (3-8) came out on a 3-0 run with goals by Janson Cunningham, Michael Olivarez and Sam Martinez.to tie the match.
“We’re working on a lot of things, trying to figure it out slowly through the season, so just reminded them of what we’re trying to do,” Acosta said about the offensive outburst.
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Waddell regained the lead for his team with 44 seconds to go in the third on a backhand shot into the left corner.
Leading 11-10 in the fourth, Thompson scored his second goal of the afternoon on a counter to give the Huskies a two-goal lead with 2:35 left to play. The goal came after the Tigers had their own tying shot ricochet off the post.
“I thought their goalie played a great game, so he made some big stops that maybe could of pus us over the edge, but it was close, it was a good game,” Acosta said.
Lemoore’s Ryan White and Cunningham eliminated the deficit when they scored twice in 36 seconds for the Tigers to tie the game again. But Waddell scored with 1:17 left in the fourth and after a missed attempt by the Tigers, the Huskies were able to hold the ball and run out the clock.
Cunningham scored a team-high four goals, Martinez had three and five other players found the back of the net. But it wasn’t enough for the Tigers who only led when they scored the first goal of the match.
The Huskies led 6-3 after the first quarter with three first-quarter goals coming from Waddell. The Tigers started the second quarter with three consecutive goals to tie the match 6-6, but the Huskies responded with a 4-1 run to close out the half.
“Our defense led a lot of counters, so it led to some easier goals,” Castellani said.
Hanford West stays undefeated and will travel to face Sunnyside (0-3) on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The Huskies are off to their best start since 2016 when they were 4-0 to begin. They won the CIF Central Section Division III championship that year.
“We’ve just been working really well together,” Waddell said. “We’ve been togheter for two years now. It’s pretty great.”
Lemoore will hit the road and start West Yosemite League play against Redwood (3-2) on Thursday at 6:30 p.m.