Gators rally to top Curtis

The Decatur soccer team took sole possession of first place in the South Puget Sound League with a 3-2 come-from-behind win over Curtis Wednesday.

Combined with Thursday’s 4-1 win over Rogers, the Gators where they want to be heading into the second half of the season.

Against Curtis, the Gators’ two-year winning streak and No. 4 national ranking looked to be in jeopardy when they trailed 2-1 with 11 minutes left in the game. But the offense finally kicked into gear. Kyle Colbath scored on a header, then Zach Norwood’s long pass ended up as an assist after a Curtis player kicked the ball into his own goal to give Decatur the win.

Decatur was without its leading scorer, Alex Chursky, who is in Germany playing for the U-20 Canadian national soccer team. Chursky averages two goals a game for Decatur.

“We’ve had better nights, that’s for sure, but the boys battled,” said Decatur coach Jimmy McAlister. “When you’re missing players and shifting players around, it takes a bit to click. But they came back. They’ve got the hearts of lions.”

Decatur hasn’t lost a game in two seasons, but was in second place in the SPSL prior to the game. Curtis led the league by two points, having just one tie to Decatur’s two ties. Teams are awarded three points for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss.

Decatur looked to be in business against Curtis when it scored four minutes into the game. Colbath’s shot caromed off the right post and senior William Craig was in the right place and the right time to volley the rebound into the net.

But Curtis tied the game six minutes later when senior midfielder Adam Zielske got open on the near post off a corner kick and tapped the ball in for a score.

In the final 30 minutes of the first half, neither team could capitalize on its opportunities. Curtis had a chance to score on another corner kick when the ball once again snuck through the Decatur defense on the near post, but goalkeeper Kyle Bressler was able to clear it.

Decatur seemingly scored the go-ahead goal with six minutes left in the first half when Colbath flicked Christian Scholze’s long throw-in to the feet of Craig, who tapped the ball into the goal. But the official whistled Craig for being offsides.

In the second half, Curtis took the lead in the 50th minute when Zielske slid between two defenders and one-touched the ball into the goal off a corner kick.

“We had some issues,” McAlister said. “Two set pieces caught us again. We haven’t really worked on those.”

Decatur nearly scored five minutes later when David Klein ripped a shot from 20 yards out, but it was blocked by a defender standing on the goal line.

Zielske almost put the game away when he turned past his defender and broke loose on a break away, but Bressler came off his line and broke up the threat.

With 11 minutes left and the outcome looking bleak, the Gators finally tied the game. Colbath beat his defender to a cross and his header slipped into the right side of the goal just out of reach of Curtis goalkeeper Alex Feliciano.

“We were trying to get it going,” Colbath said. “I was just trying to get a head on it. We wanted to prove we could play without Alex. He does so much for us on offense.”

With three minutes left, a Curtis player was whistled for a foul and Decatur was awarded an indirect kick 40 yards out. Norwood sent an arching kick deep into the goal box. As players from both teams went up for the ball, the Vikings’ Zielske tried to clear it but ended up kicking the ball into his own goal.

“I was pretty confident the whole game,” Craig said. “A tie would have kept us in the race, but now our destiny for our league is in our own hands. This is a good game to build off of because we showed desire and came back to win.”

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