Fury Handed Gut-Wrenching Shootout Loss at RGV

by Gunnar Berndt

Quiroz, Echeverria shine as Ontario falls despite never trailing in 6-6 draw

By Gunnar Berndt

Hidalgo, Tex. – The Ontario Fury was handed a defeat in the most aggravating of fashions on Sunday night, falling in seven rounds of shootouts after not trailing once all night in their away clash with Southwest Division powerhouse RGV Barracudas FC. While the Southern Californians put in an impressive performance against their Texan opposition, they failed to expand their advantage beyond two goals throughout the 6-6 contest and saw a gritty RGV pull level on four different occasions to force overtime.

The Fury’s Victor Quiroz and Anibal Echeverria each collected three points on the night, with the former recording a goal and two assists and the latter tallying twice and adding one assist.

Ontario took the lead in the game’s opening quarter, Echeverria finishing off an assist by Quiroz. The Barracudas subsequently had goalkeeping ace Diego Angel Arriaga to thank for keeping the deficit to a single goal, as the Fury had two consecutive one-on-one chances while being a man down due to a blue-card penalty. On the first counter, Arriaga refused to be rounded by Maicon de Abreu as he stood his ground and pounced on a chance to slap the ball away. Shortly thereafter, the 30-year-old rushed off his line to block the attempt by wide open Fury captain Israel Sesay.

The visitors were punished for the missed opportunities when Carlos Hernandez tied things up on a beautiful individual effort, but Quiroz quickly reclaimed the lead for Ontario, as he tucked the ball inside the post after being released by a perfect through ball from Echeverria.

After the dynamic Echeverria completed his brace in the second quarter, making it 3-1 on a setup play by Juan Carlos Gonzalez, Fury goaltender Chris Toth produced a point-blank stop of his own to deny Gustavo Rosales from close range. Ismael Pineda did cut the Barracudas’ deficit back to one, squeezing the ball inside the left upright after being picked out by Moises Gonzalez, followed by an Andy Reyes tap-in off a pass by DeBray Hollimon to reestablish the old margin at 4-2. However, the hosts had other plans and they managed to get back on level terms courtesy of Erick Jhon Ponce.

First the 32-year-old midfielder fired home on a pass by Oswaldo Medina Gonzalez with less than 15 seconds to play in the first half. Then he completed his brace by sending a shot into the net on a power play after the break. While Toth had come up with a fantastic one-handed save to keep out a Moises Gonzalez blast moments prior to the equalizer, the Ontario shot-stopper was helpless on Medina Gonzalez’ effort, which appeared to take a deflection en route to the goal.

Juan Carlos Gonzalez gave the Fury the lead once more before the end of the third period, but RGV tied the game up yet again, Moises Gonzalez this time scoring on an assist by player-coach Genoni Martinez.

The visitors grabbed their final lead of the night in the closing quarter of regulation time, as Jeff Hughes fired across the frame and into the upper ninety, having been picked out on a free-kick by Quiroz. One more time, Head Coach Jimmy Nordberg’s men would see their advantage evaporate, with Oswaldo Medina Gonzalez rifling a rocket into the net to make it 6-6.

While the two sides exchanged agonizingly close looks with less than two minutes left on the clock, neither was able to claim victory before then end of the 60 minutes. First, the Barracudas’ Efrain Martinez centered to a well-positioned Emmanuel Aguirre, whose awkward first-time touch sent the ball just wide. Then, a mere ten seconds later, Ontario’s Quiroz released a left-footed blast that rattled the right post.

That would send the contest into two relatively uneventful halves of overtime, which concluded without a golden goal, bringing about a shootout to determine the winner. Following six rounds of maximum suspense, with both goalkeepers making several outstanding stops, Moises Gonzalez finally scored for RGV in round seven after the Fury’s Juan Carlos Gonzalez had seen his attempt denied. With the Barracudas winning the shootout 4-3, they took the win by an overall score of 10-9.

The Ontario Fury has little time to dwell on the gut-wrenching result, as it takes on another MASL title contender, the Monterrey Flash, tomorrow in part two of a demanding four-game road swing. Currently ahead of the Tacoma Stars by a hair in the hunt for a Pacific Division playoff berth, the team returns home for a crucial meeting with the El Paso Coyotes on Sunday, March 24. Tickets to all games at Citizens Business Bank Arena may be purchased by clicking here or by calling 909-457-0252.