Anderson’s left-foot strike from 25 yards knotted the score in the 74th minute with central midfielder Sean Healy providing the assist in the Mother Lode League match.
“Every game is a must-win, even though it’s still early in the season,” Anderson said. “I just tried to stay calm and collected. I did a few moves to get the defender off of me and I just went for it. Luckily, it went near post.”
Up until that point, Bret Harte had controlled the game with good pace and possession despite playing with 10 players after a Bullfrog was sent off in the 37th minute with a red card.
The Bullfrogs pushed forward using striker Jesus Medrano in a pivotal role up top in the first half.
Medrano put Bret Harte on the scoreboard first when central midfielder Omar Munoz laid off a ball in the box that Medrano buried in the 29th minute.
“I got the ball,” Medrano said. “I was confident. I knew I was going to score. I saw one defender come up to me, so I passed it to my teammate and he set me up. I took the shot.”
Medrano created numerous chances in the first half using his great dribbling skills down the right flank with crosses into the box. None of them connected cleanly, but he spelled trouble for the Bears backline.
When Medrano had the ball at his feet, Bear defenders raced over to surround the talented forward.
“They use me as a player to draw in players,” Medrano said. “I used that as a skill to open up spaces in order for my other players to be able to connect.”
But the Bullfrogs couldn’t find another goal to put the match out of reach. Medrano played in a lone striker role in the second half, due to playing with only 10 players, which made defending the dangerous and skillful Medrano easier for the Bears defense.
“It’s hard, especially because they take away my forward,” Medrano said. “It’s hard playing against three defenders, but I’m used to it because I usually draw in players. Once I draw in all those players, it’s hard for me to be able to find someone in order to finish.”
For Bullfrogs coach Qani Berisha, the 1-1 draw is something that he can live with.
“I’m pleased with the result,” Berisha said. “It could have been worse. Playing with 10 men, even in the pros, there’s no team that would win the game. They did a great job. Defense did good.”
In search of the tying goal, the Bears opened the second half with intent to expose the 10-man Bullfrogs, but Bret Harte pressured well on defense and cut their passing lanes by breaking up the Bears’ distribution.
With it hard to find open space, the Bears were anxious to link up in the final third, which led to six offsides calls within a 30-minute stretch.
The Bears finally found some room to work with when Anderson pounced on a ball and sped his way into the box in the 65th minute, where he fired a well-placed shot that Bret Harte goalkeeper Logan Millar denied.
“Bret Harte, they gave a great game tonight, which we knew they would,” said Bears head coach Dave Reel. “We never step on this field thinking otherwise.”
Anderson would not be denied a second time when he finished with a clinical goal late in the match to send both teams home with a draw.
“To be down that long and to finally pull it together was special,” Reel said.