Espinoza’s hat trick leads Pam Pack past North Pitt

Published 11:32 pm Monday, October 24, 2016

Oscar Espinoza took to the air and nailed a picture-perfect bicycle kick in the 58th minute of Washington’s 5-1 win against North Pitt. With the highlight-reel strike, Espinoza completed the natural hat trick to keep the Pam Pack’s conference championship aspirations alive.


“I’ve hit a few (bicycle kicks) before. My dad pressures me, saying ‘If you’re in that situation, hit that ball,’” Espinoza said. “I was really just thinking about him when I hit that.”

Coach Jim Kozuch added, “I was thinking the same as (Espinoza). That was awesome. … It’s been a long, long time. No body that I’ve coached has banged in a bike like that before. I used to play with a kid from Turkey that scored on them regularly. It was an awesome game for him today.”

North Pitt struck first just three minutes into the game. It was only the second time this season that Washington conceded the first goal. Diego Espino ripped a shot from the left side of the penalty area to beat Kevin Avilla.

It took the Pam Pack a little while to settle in. It spent much of the first 15 minutes playing in its own zone. The little offense it mustered came off of set pieces, fizzling shortly after.

“I gave the guys Thursday and Friday off after a tough week last week,” Kozuch said. The Pam Pack played three in a row last week. “So, I think we were a little rusty. We didn’t come out and play our style of soccer in the first half. We didn’t move the ball very well.”

The boys broke through in the 18th minute. Eric Ruiz inbounded a corner kick to Ben McKeithan, who quickly tapped it back to Ruiz. He dribbled toward the goal before crossing the ball right onto the head of Espinoza, who beat North Pitt goalkeeper Alex Alarcon.


Cody Pinkham cleared a dangerous ball in the 32nd minute, assuring that the Pam Pack and Panthers would go into the intermission tied at one apiece.

It wouldn’t stay that way for long, though. Espinoza notched his second goal of the game — and the decisive score — on a throw in by McKeithan. Espinoza used his head again to beat Alarcon, putting Washington ahead, 2-1, in the 46th minute.

Espinoza scored his third unanswered goal on the aforementioned bicycle kick, pushing the Pam Pack’s lead to 3-1 with 22 minutes to play.

Washington added two more to seal the deal. Rob Zerniak scored in the 74th minute by breaking through North Pitt’s defense, dribbling past Alarcon, and walking the ball into the net.

Ruiz drew a penalty in the box two minutes later. Panther defender Fredi Ramirez was presented his second yellow card of the game, resulting in a red card and an ejection. Jose Gamboa stepped up to the spot and converted on the penalty kick.

Eric Ruiz leaps over North Pitt’s aggressive goalkeeper. He assisted on Oscar Espinoza’s first goal and drew a late penalty kick.

Eric Ruiz leaps over North Pitt’s aggressive goalkeeper. He assisted on Oscar Espinoza’s first goal and drew a late penalty kick.

“We were lucky to be in it at 1-1 at half,” Kozuch said. “I told the guys that I expected three goals in the second half. We got four, which made me very happy.”

Washington hosts Beddingfield on Wednesday in its regular-season finale. The Pam Pack will then have its sights set on North Johnston in a play-in game before shifting focus to the playoffs.