Ivan Ceja took matters into his own hands in the 84th minute as Pasco beat Skyline 1-0.
PUYALLUP — Ivan Ceja is the anchor on defense for the Pasco High School boys soccer team.
The center back had an out-of-character moment in his biggest moment.
With a state title on the line in a scoreless overtime match, Ceja did his best forward imitation by hustling to possess a loose ball and never breaking stride. Ceja knocked in the left-footed, game-winning goal in the 84th minute as Pasco beat Skyline 1-0 in overtime Saturday evening in the Class 4A state championship match at Sparks Stadium.
“I mean I won the ball, so I just kept going,” Ceja said after his team finished 21-2. “I just felt like we had to win. I couldn’t see us losing any more. Those guys are great players. It was a great match.”
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The loss stung for the Spartans (17-2-3), who were on the other side of a golden-goal OT scenario in its 1-0 state semifinal win over Sumner on Friday.
“I thought we rattled the bar a couple times tonight, and we just didn’t get the right bounce,” said Skyline coach Don Braman, whose program is 0-2 in title matches. “You’ve got to get a little bit of fortune in there. Thirty seconds before the end we hit the ball off the cross bar and I thought it bounced in. We just didn’t quite get it done.
“It’s just hard, because these boys have a great story behind them. They deserve better.”
Skyline’s best chance after halftime came in the 83rd minute — three minutes into the first overtime — as sophomore Emmet Bowler hit a shot just off the underside of the cross bar and Braman thought his team was a winner, but the referees ruled it stayed outside the goal line. The ball ended up bouncing safely into the arms of Pasco goalkeeper Jose Moreno Gudino and about a minute later Ceja, who will play at Columbia Basin College in the fall, took it on himself to win.
“We just kept fighting and fighting,” Pasco coach Matt Potter said. “There just weren’t that many chances. It was an unbelievable play. It’s the kind of play that wins titles. We needed a special play, someone stepping up and doing something out of the ordinary.
“That was extraordinary. He’s a center back, always. He’s never done that this entire year. He decided it was his time.”
The Spartans made the Class 4A final for the first time since 2011 when they fell to Eastlake 2-0 in the title match.
Pasco reached the championship match for the second season in a row. It was the sixth time the Bulldogs made a state final, winning titles in 1999 and 2007.
Pasco fell to Beamer 2-1 in last season’s title match.
The Bulldogs had a scoring chance sail away in the 40th minute. Joey Esquival-Rodriguez was open in front of goal after a cross from teammate Oscar Cortez, but his shot went high above the cross bar.
In the eighth minute, Skyline had its best first-half opportunity to score, but Sergio Palomino’s header skimmed over the top of the cross bar and harmlessly out of bounds.
• Fresh off a gut-wrenching 1-0 loss in double-overtime to Skyline in the semifinals, Sumner (19-3) took out its frustrations on Eastmont (16-5) 6-0 to claim third place. Sumner’s Kurtis Vanhout scored three times.