WEST COLUMBIA — The Brazosport Exporters tied Columbia, 1-1, but came out ahead Monday by retaining their hold on second place in the District 24-4A soccer standings.

The outcome leaves the Roughnecks (2-1-1) a half-game back in third place after an intense, physical match at Griggs Field.

The Exporters (3-1-1) almost left the stadium with a victory as a late shot almost found netting. Darius Martinez found himself at the 7-yard line with the ball on his toe as he let one go with a huge shot at Columbia goalkeeper Houston Cook, who smothered the ball down with 40 seconds on the clock.

The late flurry obscured Brazosport’s scoring struggles after taking an early lead.

The Ships, who came in second in district in scoring with 16 goals, went up 1-0 in the first half as the Roughnecks looked sluggish to start the match. Brazosport’s Jayden Alvarez capitalized when he slipped inside the defense for a 1-0 lead with 9:25 gone in the first half.

Brazosport outshot the Roughnecks 9-5 in those first 40 minutes with Columbia keeper Houston Cook having to make four saves to prevent the Exporters from adding to the lead.

Most of the action was played back and forth, with both sides having double-digit turns at the net.

Columbia still looked a step behind the Exporters in the second half until Erik Perez went up against a couple of defenders and delivered the ball in the back of the net to tie the match 1-1 just five minutes in.

In the 67th minute of play, Brazosport tried to answer as Abel Oliva sent a pair of shots at the net. The first came on a free kick from about the 30-yard line that sailed over the net. His second was a line drive from the 15-yard line Cook had to punch away with his right-handed mitt.

Columbia almost took the lead in the 72nd minute with back-to-back shots at the net, one coming from Andres Mata. Both shots were left footers and barely missed the mark.

Oliva, who was an aggressive part of the Brazosport attack, left a bit later with a gash to his knee. He did not return.

Columbia slipped to 2-1-1 and 10-5-1 overall and will head to Palacios this Saturday. The Exporters will host Palacios next Monday at Hopper Field.

Joel Luna is sports editor for The Facts. Contact him at 979-237-0160 or at joel.luna@thefacts.com

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