The Rematch

Pumas take on #1 ranked Bush Blazers for a second time


Photo: Kyan Rosenthal

Senior Kellen Davis clashes with a Bush player for the ball down the sideline in the second half.

While the Bush Blazers were the #1 ranked team in the state heading into the April 28 rematch with University Prep’s varsity boys soccer team, there was one thing they didn’t have in their nearly perfect regular season: a win against the Pumas. The 10-1 Blazers’ only loss of the season was at the hands of UPrep — a 1-0 loss on April 1. Even with this chance for revenge, the fact that it was a home game for Bush — and doubled as their senior night — the visiting Pumas easily saw their fans outnumbered by those from Bush.

With the playoffs looming close, the Pumas did not overlook another chance at beating the top team.

“The game versus Bush will be an emotionally charged one,” Pumas coach Alec Duxbury said before the game. “We will need to be composed, patient and deliberate with our tactics. They will want a frenetic pace and style, and we can stay in the game if we can slow it down some and look to counter attack them.”

That is exactly the game plan the Pumas executed in the first half as they danced with the Blazers. Bush looked to be very aggressive out of the gate, but the Pumas were able to slow them down and respond to every punch.

Photo: Jonathan Karas

Senior Harry Jackson made a quality tackle on the right sideline of the field early in the half to stop an imposing Bush drive. Bush senior Saxton Barrett took a powerful shot on goal early in the game as well, which was saved gracefully by UPrep’s sophomore keeper Kian Baghai. After an eventful first half, the game was knotted at zeros.

Going into the break, the Pumas’ spirits were high.

“I felt really good about the way things were going into the second half. It felt just like the first game which we won,” junior Will Rothman said.

After a slow start by both teams, the second half started to get intense. Bush zipped some passes by UPrep defenders to get all the way to the goal before senior Phin Mahlum flew in and forced a corner kick. The Pumas then cleared the ball out of harm’s way. Both teams were getting looks and barely missing.

Midway through the second half, Bush threw the ball in from the left side and kicked the ball towards the goal. The ball ricocheted off multiple players before Bush junior Eric Coombs headed it in to break the tie. Bush went up 1-0 and never looked back, surviving late shots from junior Quin Drabek and senior Owen Howland to close out the victory.

Despite the loss, coach Duxbury was positive in the post-game huddle.

“Your response [to the goal] was immediate and emphatic,” Duxbury said.

While the result of the game wasn’t what any of the players had hoped for, the team’s focus turned immediately to the postseason.

“It is my hope that we can be healthy going into the playoffs and we will be able to use all nineteen of our players to make this second season as long as possible,” Duxbury said.

Sophomore Landon Eintrak fights for the ball (Photo: Kyan Rosenthal)
Senior Kellen Davis takes a free kick (Photo: Kyan Rosenthal)
Senior Owen Howland tries to get in front of the ball on a Bush drive (Photo: Kyan Rosenthal)