Rockne Roll/News-Register##
McMinnville s Cameron Autencio departs the field as the Lincoln Cardinals, in background, jog towards their fans to celebrate following their 2-1 defeat of the Grizzlies at Wortman Stadium Tuesday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Cameron Autencio departs the field as the Lincoln Cardinals, in background, jog towards their fans to celebrate following their 2-1 defeat of the Grizzlies at Wortman Stadium Tuesday.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##
McMinnville s Irvin Figueroa (8) and Lincoln s Carson graham (13) battle for possession in Tuesday s OSAA State Championship semifinal match between the schools at Wortman Stadium.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville's Irvin Figueroa (8) and Lincoln's Carson graham (13) battle for possession in Tuesday's OSAA State Championship semifinal match between the schools at Wortman Stadium.
Rockne Roll/News-Register##
McMinnville center back Renee Resendez takes a header in front of the Lincoln net in Tuesday s semifinal match.
Rockne Roll/News-Register## McMinnville center back Renee Resendez takes a header in front of the Lincoln net in Tuesday's semifinal match.
By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Cardinals end Grizzlies' dream season

No. 4-seeded Lincoln did what teams have struggled to do all season against No. 1 McMinnville boys soccer Tuesday evening at Wortman Stadium.

With a berth to the OSAA Class 6A state championship game on the line, the Cardinals kept the Grizzlies from playing their possession-oriented game.

Trailing 2-0 in the 50th minute -- the first two-goal deficit McMinnville has faced all season -- the Grizzlies cut Lincoln's lead in half on a Renee Resendez free-kick goal and furiously rallied throughout the final 15 minutes.

The second goal, the chance to end the game, never came through. Mac's first loss of the season, 2-1 to the Cardinals, also ends it in the 6A state semifinal round.

"It's unbelievable. It's incredible," McMinnville coach Jory Shene said. "You go through a season, you take one loss all season -- it happens to be in a semifinal game, unfortunately.

"15-1-2 ... there are teams that would dream to have those types of numbers."

Lincoln (16-1-2), the bigger of the two teams, bothered the Grizzlies early with their size and physicality. The Cardinals drew a foul just outside the goalie box on McMinnville defender Jose Bautista in the 17th minute, and Lincoln's Carson Graham took the free kick.

Graham booted the ball around the Grizzlies' wall and past goalkeeper Grant Vicknair, starting for the first time in 10 games due to the red-card suspension of Jesus Cabrera.

Facing the rare deficit, McMinnville settled down as the first half went on, attaining quality possession in the final five minutes but failing to capitalize. The Grizzlies picked it back up from halftime, an excellent opportunity arising in the 43rd minute.

Senior defender Irvin Figueroa booted a crossing shot from the right side of the goal. Sophomore Cameron Autencio leapt for the header, but the ball grazed his head and the left post. An ensuing corner kick by Isaias Flores was stopped by Lincoln goalkeeper Cameron Bennett.

"It just (hit) the back of my head. I didn't get full contact of it. It just went (off the) back (of my head) and hit the post," Autencio said. "If I had got it on my forehead it would've went in for a goal."

Cardinals senior Nicholas Marcy collected a rebound in the goalie box and put Lincoln up 2-0 with his 49th-minute strike. McMinnville kept up its possession and pressure, finally breaking through in the 64th minute.

Grizzlies junior Renee Resendez lined up a free kick from 50 yards away, in front of the McMinnville bench. Resendez's long, arcing shot never touched a player on its way to the back of the net, a jolt of energy for the home team and the Grizzlies' faithful at Wortman Stadium.

"I think someone fake-headed it and the goalie thought they were going to head it," said Autencio, who lined up to head the kick on the set piece. "You just looked and the ball was in the net. You just picked it up from there."

McMinnville pressed onward, creating runs and combination plays, occasionally challenging the Cardinals. A Jonah Crown strike inside the goalie box went high in the 70th minute; one minute later, Jose Bautista narrowly missed a header off a Flores corner kick.

The anxiety on the field built up among the fans in attendance. With every completed pass, every throughball, every run down the sideline, every moment of anticipation for a free kick or a corner kick, the baseline level of noise grew louder and louder.

"Absolute chaos," Resendez said. "It feels like you're fighting for your life."

Until the clock struck zero. The murmur of the Grizzlies' faithful disappeared into the cool, clear air.

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