HUBBARD - In the closing minutes of Hubbard's matchup with LaBrae, the Eagles were pressing for an equalizer when senior Kyle Bolen passed to Ben Rubinic in the middle of LaBrae's half.
When Rubinic decided to hit a shot from distance, Bolen didn't expect it to find the back of the net, instead just hoping for the ball to hit the frame of the goal and bounce back into play.
Well, the end result was better than that. Rubinic's chip shot from more than 26 yards out sailed over LaBrae goalkeeper Austin Jones' hands and dipped under the crossbar in the 79th minute for a goal to salvage a 3-3 tie for Eagles against the Vikings at Hubbard Memorial Stadium on Monday night.
"I thought it was going to hit off the post and bounce back out or hit the bottom of the post and bounce down," Bolen said. "(I was) really, really happy that we got back back to tie it."
The goal gave Hubbard coach Cory Reinard a sense of relief after the match because he said the Eagles (7-4-1) hadn't performed well as of late.
"We've been going the wrong way recently, as far as our performance in games," Reinard said. "Especially going into tomorrow's game with Lakeview, we needed some momentum. It wasn't the momentum we wanted, but at least getting that final goal back, keeping it at a 3-3 draw gives us some momentum going into (today)."
Early in the match, it looked as though the Eagles' struggles might continue when the Vikings (5-2-3) took a two-goal lead in the first 27 minutes.
LaBrae utilized its speed up top for much of the match, something coach Rick Jones said he noticed when the Vikings won the earlier meeting this season, 3-2. The first time this strategy succeeded came in the 17th minute. Mike Stassinis used a through pass to put Tristan Ancell alone on net, and Ancell held off a Hubbard defender before beating Eagle goalkeeper Jachob Shaffer, who charged off his line.
Then, with the match tied, 2-2, in the 53rd minute, the Vikings' speed burnt the Hubbard defense again, this time having the center backs converge on Stassinis, who recorded assists on all three LaBrae goals, before the junior could squeak out the ball to Ancell, who only had to tap in the 10-yard shot.
"When we played them the first time, we could push the ball, play a little long ball," Jones said. "We have two quick guys, and Mikey Stassinis is excellent with footwork to be able to push it up to our speed in Tristan Ancell. That was the gameplan - run two forwards, push it up to them and see what we can get off of them."
This counterattacking style allowed Hubbard to control possession for much of the match, but the Eagles couldn't do much with it until they scored their first goal in the 35th minute. Reinard said the team didn't move the ball into dangerous places early in the match. Hubbard managed to do that later, which allowed the team to equalize both in the 44th minute through a Bolen goal and in the 79th minute.
"We do very well with maintaining the ball," Reinard said. "We just have to do better with transition. I would love to see that a lot sooner. At the beginning of the game, we moved the ball, but it was useless movement."
According to Jones, the Vikings hadn't picked up a positive result against Hubbard before this season, and they finished the season series with a win and a tie. In Jones' mind, this tie was as good as a win.
"Whenever you play Hubbard, when you come out even with a tie, that's a win for us," Jones said. "In the history of LaBrae soccer, we never beat 'em till this year, and then to tie them in this game is a huge success for us."