BREMERTON — Jesus Meraz-Rodriguez scored in the first half and his brother, Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez, scored the game winner in the second half to lead the Artesians to a 2-1 victory over the Oly-Pen Force at Gordon Field in Bremerton Saturday afternoon. The win kept the Artesians in the playoff hunt in the Evergreen Premier League’s Cascade Conference with four games left in the regular season.
Oly Town opened the game dominating possession and produced several early chances. The Artesians chipped away at the Oly-Pen defense until Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez worked his way down to the end line and dribbled a pass into the middle that found Jesus Meraz-Rodriguez, who punched it to the right of Force keeper Cole Weaver for a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute.
The Force turned the tables on the Artesians to begin the second half producing dangerous chances until Keeton Heggerness got the final touch on a counterattack, tying the game at 1-1 in the 63rd minute.
After the goal, the Artesians tightened up the defense and were able to get more possession going forward, again testing the Force defense. In the 76th minute, Emilio Meraz-Rodriguez received a pass, took two quick touches and fired a laser from 30 yards out, beating Weaver to the right to give them a 2-1 lead they would not relinquish.
The Force pressed over the final ten minutes to try to get the equalizer, but Price was up to the task making a handful of saves and the Artesians held on for the 2-1 win. The Artesians move to 2-4-0 with six points in the Cascade Conference and are now five points behind the second place Seattle Stars for a playoff spot. The Force dropped to 3-2-1 and remain in second place in the Rainier Conference.
Oly Town FC will next face the Grays Harbor Gulls on Wednesday in the semifinals of the Washington State Super Cup. First kick at Black Hills High School is set for 7:30 p.m. The first 20 fans through the gates will receive an Artesians scarf courtesy of Kevin Hayward State Farm.
The next home Evergreen Premier League game is July 6, when the Tri-Cities Alliance hit the capital city.