Josh Alvarenga is making a habit of late-game heroics, much to the delight of Lockerby Vikings senior boys soccer coach Paul Hatzis.
Just weeks after scoring the game's only goal in the dying seconds to lift the Vikes to a 1-0 win over St. Charles College, Alvarenga was working his magic a second time, doubling the stakes.
With the Lo-Ellen Park Knights holding a 2-1 lead with mere minutes to play on Tuesday, Alvarenga went to work, scoring twice in the final 180 seconds as Lockerby pulled a win out of the fire, keeping alive their hopes of a second-place finish and first-round playoff bye.
The goals capped a frantic 20-minute stretch for the Vikings, who finally played with a sense of urgency given that Lo-Ellen was clearly the better team through 50 minutes of play.
"They had two guys on our defence at all times, so they were playing their form very well," noted Alvarenga, tipping his hat to the Knights. "It was hard to defend against."
In the 15th minute, Lo-Ellen's Jade Dydyk sailed a shot just over the crossbar, pouncing on a well-played through ball from Aristo Koutsoukis, but 10 minutes later, the latter would make no mistake.
Koutsoukis stepped up, hitting a strike from just over 20 yards out and catching the top far corner clean, giving the Knights a 1-0 lead. Early in the second, Lo-Ellen worked the ball up the field with impressive efficiency, as Jay Lemon set up Dydyk, who got in behind keeper Roberto Bagnato, tapping home the game's second goal into a now vacated cage.
Showing little in the way of determined fight, the Vikings got a spark. Defender Blake Wisnewski persevered, finding his way deep into Lo-Ellen territory and centring a pass from near the end line that Dillan Kmit headed, with the ball bouncing slowly towards the far corner of the net, cutting the deficit in half.
"It wasn't very hard, but it was a well-placed shot," conceded Alvarenga. "It really helped us get going."
With Lockerby pressing, the Knights were on their heels. In the 78th minute, the Vikings struck again.
"No one was open, so I just wanted to shoot it, to see what would happen," explained Alvarenga. "It worked out pretty good."
The talented striker turned on an outside ball from the left side of the pitch, giving his shot just enough loft to carry all the way over to the far side of the net and deadlocking the contest at 2-2.
With momentum completely on their side, the Vikings mounted one final attack, with a pass into the box played into a crowd as Alvarenga somehow got his foot on the ball, punching it just over the head of the Lo-Ellen netminder.
"I couldn't really get under the ball, so I just had to try and play it over the goalie," Alvarenga explained. "That was the only way."
The win leaves Lockerby with a record of 3-2, tied for second place with the Collège Notre-Dame Alouettes.
The Vikings close out regular-season play this afternoon, facing the Bishop Carter Gators (0-5) at home, while CND travels to Valley East to do battle with the Confederation Chargers (2-2-1).
If both the Vikes and Als win, Lockerby takes second place by virtue of a 3-2 win in their head-to-head matchup to start the season. The very well-matched Girls Premier division continued to provide some very interesting results, as the St. Charles College Cardinals recorded a critical 2-0 win over Notre-Dame, potentially denying the Alouettes a first-place finish, all while also avoiding a tie-breaker, at their end, against Macdonald-Cartier for the sixth and final playoff spot.
With Lockerby (2-0-3 for nine points) and Lo-Ellen (2-2-2 for eight points) playing to a scoreless draw on Tuesday, the Marymount Regals (4-1-1 for 13 points) have sprung forward, assuring themselves a top-two finish with a 4-1 win over Bishop Carter.
The Regals received goals from Christina Isaia, Sidney Smith, Toni Teale and Chantae Robinson in stopping the Gators. Confederation (3-0-2 for 11 points) and Notre-Dame (3-1-1 for 10 points) close out their regular seasons with a toe-to-toe battle, with the winner still able to overtake Marymount at the top of the standings — assuming the game does not end up in a tie.
In Second Division play on Tuesday, the Lively Hawks picked up their third straight victory, blanking the Chelmsford Flyers 5-0 on goals from Teshyalia Bell (2), Tatum Hurley, Jasmine Talevi and Cassie Gingras, with Jordan Duncanson registering the shutout.