Sports

Defending state champs finally roll to first win

By CASEY OLSON

The Mirror

A win is a win and right now the Thomas Jefferson soccer team will take one anyway they can get one.

The defending state-champion Raiders picked up their first victory of the young season Tuesday over the Enumclaw Hornets, 2-1, in a non-league match at Federal Way Memorial Stadium. Jefferson had started the season with three losses in a row to Auburn, Auburn Riverside and Tahoma.

“It’s always good to win,” said TJ head coach Darren Sawatzky. “I am happy for the boys as they start to find what type of team they are.”

This year’s edition of the Raiders is a lot different from last year, when TJ rolled to the sixth state championship in school history. The 2005 team was senior-dominated with athletes that had played with one another since they were in grade school. This year’s Raider team is excruciatingly young.

“There is definitely more coaching to be done this year,” Sawatzky said.

The coaching paid off Tuesday against Enumclaw. Jefferson’s Nick McNew tallied the game-winning goal just a minute after Enumclaw tied the match at 1-1. McNew took a pass from sophomore midfielder Tyler Hanson and put the ball in the back of the net in the 59th minute. Enumclaw’s Joe Vargas scored the Hornets’ goal in the 58th minute.

The Raiders’ first score of the game came from Hanson late in the first half. Hanson got his chest on a rebound off Enumclaw goalkeeper Andrew Savage and volleyed the ball onto his foot in front of the goal. It was actually Hanson’s second goal of the half, but his first was called off because of an offsides call.

The Raiders now focus their attention squarely on cross-district rival Decatur. The two perennial soccer powers will get together Tuesday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium in their first of two meetings this season. The two schools have combined to win a total of eight state championships and three of the last six Class 4A titles.

The game will be the final non-league match for both teams. The South Puget Sound League South Division regular-season schedule kicks off Friday night with their first of 10 league games.

“I actually prefer having all the games count because it measured your ability over time,” Sawatzky said. “But having the non-league games does help you experiment with kids that normally would not really get a chance to play.”

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