By Ray Hamill — Braiden Barsanti scored the only goal of a thrilling and well-played North Coast Section boys soccer semifinal at Fortuna on Wednesday night, as the Huskies edged St. Helena 1-0 to advance to another championship game.
Barsanti’s goal came off a corner kick with just nine minutes remaining in a game that appeared to be getting away from the home team.
But the two-time defending NCS champs dug deep when they had to, with Barsanti scoring the decisive goal and the Fortuna defense holding firm in the final minutes.
“They were probably the best team we’ve played all year,” Fortuna head coach Daniel Holmes said of the Saints. “And I thought they settled into the game.”
The Huskies got the better of the early exchanges in a fast-paced start to the game and could have been up two or three goals in the opening 15 minutes.
But the visitors began to settle down and their speedy attack caused the home team concerns all night.
Fortuna center back Adrian Olea made some outstanding tackles under pressure, while goalkeeper Alonso Garcia came up with several big saves to keep the visitors at bay.
Up front, Antonio Garcinuno was as dangerous as ever early in the game, with some nice moves catching the Saints defense off guard.
Check out the winning goal above …
However, as the game wore on the Saints adapted to the threat, and a highly-entertaining end-to-end game was up for grabs.
But with their season on the line, the Huskies once again found a way to pull out a victory and stretch their unbeaten run to an incredible 63 games.
They will host Making Waves in Saturday’s championship game.
The NCS final will be the team’s fifth in six seasons.