In the late game on Saturday, The Coronado Islanders visited the Rancho Bernardo Broncos in a rematch of a 7-6 Coronado regular season victory. This time the game was played in Bronco Country.
The two teams took the first few possessions of the game to feel each other out, as teams exchanged possessions without much result. Eventually, Rancho Bernardo goalie Tyler Lombardi came out of the cage to draw a push call during a loose ball to give the Broncos a man-up opportunity. Duncan Copeland wasted no time as he took a pass from Rex Rizzuti and buried it for the game’s first goal at the 6:09 mark.
Less than a minute later, Tanner Caldwell threw a cross-crease feed to Timothy Ferrar, who tapped it past Lombardi to even the score. Lombardi rebounded, however, and made an amazing one-on-none save three minutes later. Austin Gent drew a foul during the ensuing clear, and the Broncos went man-up again. Coronado goalie Easton Gormican made an incredible stop while running back into the cage, but the Broncos recovered the rebound and Jacob Maldonado drilled it into the net for the 2-1 lead at the 1:21 mark.
In the second quarter, Caldwell seemed to have tied the game, but the goal was wiped out thanks to a crease violation at the hands of an illegal push by the Broncos. Caldwell used the man-up opportunity to assist Gianni Orlando for the missing goal to knot it up at two. Two minutes later, Rancho Bernardo’s Tucker Reed found a wide open Maldonado on the backside to take the lead back.
Next, Hunter So intercepted a Coronado clearing pass, made a dash for the cage and tossed the ball past Gormican for a goal that energized the Bronco Blue and gave them the 4-2 lead. Nicholas DeMaio answered right back for the Islanders, thanks to a helper from Orlando some 30 seconds afterwards. Caldwell kept the rally going with an unassisted tally a minute later, and Michael Rodriguez capped a three-goal run after sending a hard shot past Lombardi. The Islanders tried to make it a four-goal run at the stroke of halftime, but Lombardi turned the effort away to keep the score at 5-4 Coronado during the break.
Coronado had an exceptional night at the faceoff X, an effort led by Kyle Anderson, that would prove to be instrumental down the stretch.
The teams came out a bit slow in the third quarter, with no goals being scored for six and a half minutes. Gormican drew a two-minute non-releasable foul on a high hit early in the quarter, but Lombardi was up to the task as he made a critical save and clear to kill the penalty.
The Broncos scored next, as they caught the Islanders offsides and used the quick whistle to tie the game, with Maldonado finding So wide open during the scramble. Micah Grim answered right back for Coronado thanks to a feed from Micah Rickard, and the quarter ended at 6-5 Coronado.
Anderson won the faceoff to start the fourth quarter and the Islanders threatened to score right away to open the quarter, but Lombardi turned the effort away. Five minutes later, Caldwell scored on an unassisted effort to take a two-goal lead, but So followed suit with a goal in the same fashion to cut the Bronco deficit to one. Two minutes afterwards, So put on a repeat performance and scored unassisted yet again to tie the game at seven.
With the game tied with four minutes to go, everyone in the stadium was on pins and needles. To the relief of the Islanders, Caldwell scored again to take the lead, 8-7. Thirty seconds later, Bronco long stick midfielder Lucas Castaneda caused a turnover in his own end and gave the ball to his offense to go back to work. Maldonado received a big skip pass from So and buried it at the 2:47 mark. 8-8. At 1:18, Caldwell completed his hat trick with another unassisted goal to give the Islanders the lead, 9-8.
On the ensuing faceoff, Christian Pratt came up with a critical faceoff win for the Broncos and coach Adam Morawski immediately called timeout to preserve possession. After working the ball around and missing some shots, Maldonado made a run at the cage with just seconds to go and sent the ball into the net with 0.9 seconds remaining in the game. 9-9. The stadium erupted.
After the captains met again to decide sides for the overtime period, Anderson won the most important faceoff of the night and Coronado coach Alex Cade called a quick timeout. In the ensuing possession, Caldwell lost his defender out on the wing and found Anderson, the man of the night, open on the crease for the game winning goal.
The Islanders move on to take on the Poway Titans on Wednesday in the semifinal round.