Sports

Decatur soccer machine keeps rolling

The Decatur soccer team is playing for more than a state championship this season. Sure, the state championship is part of the equation. But the players are aiming for two more accomplishments this season: keeping The Streak alive and winning a national championship.

First, there’s The Streak. This team hasn’t lost a game dating back to the state quarterfinals in 2000. The seniors on this year’s team were sophomores at the time. The team’s 2-0, self-destructive meltdown against Port Angeles on May 20, 2000 featured 11 yellow cards and three red cards. It was the only loss that season, and the only loss the current seniors have experienced since enrolling at Decatur. In the past three seasons, this group has compiled 55 wins, one loss, five ties. Decatur’s current unbeaten streak is 41 games. It could be 42 by now, depending on the outcome of last night’s game against Snohomish (the result was unavailable by press time).

A win last night would put the Gators in the state semifinals on Friday, one game away from the state finals the following day. The magic number is 44.

“That might be more important than winning state,” senior captain Nick McCluskey said of The Streak.

Last season, the team went 21-0-1, the only blemish being a tie in the very first game of the season against Rogers. In 2000, the team was 17-0-2 before losing the state playoff game. This season, the team was 17-0-2 heading into last night’s game.

If Decatur wins the rest of its games, including the state championship game next Saturday in Everett, it will be in strong consideration for national championship honors.

As of its May 14 poll, the high school sports Web site studentsports.com has Decatur ranked No. 3 in the nation, behind No. 1 Brookwood (19-0-1) of Snellville, Ga., and No. 2 Bearden (20-0-0) of Knoxville, Tenn.

Decatur is next in line for the top spot if both of those teams falter in its respective state playoffs.

So is there anything that can beat the Gators?

“Themselves,” McAlister said. “There’s good teams out there. It’s our job to come mentally prepared to play. When we come out prepared to play, we’re a good team. When we’re not ready, we’re mediocre.”

The Decatur soccer team kept rolling down the road to the state championshp game with a 4-1 win Tuesday over Monroe, last season’s Class 3A state champions.

“You don’t win a state champiosnhip and go unbeaten in 41 games by not being good,” said Monroe coach Paul Hurme. “It’s the best high school soccer team I’ve seen in six years of coaching high school soccer. They have dynamic players on every part oft he field. (Alex) Chursky and (Nick) McCluskey get the press, but they’ve got impressive players all over the field.”

The winner of last night’s game between Decatur and Snohomish plays in the semi-final round of the state touranment at 5 p.m. next Friday at Everett Stadium.

Against Monroe, Decatur junior Kyle Colbath scored two goals and senior Nick McCluskey had three assists as the Gators took care of business at Federal Way Memorial Field.

The Gators found themselves in the rare position of trailing when Monroe scored just five minutes into the game on Brian Gullikson’s header off a free kick.

“We’ve had problems with set pieces all year,” senior defender Will Craig said. “After that, we made sure to sort that out. It was a bad way to start. But we came back with a goal. It was a good way to answer.”

Monroe’s lead didn’t last long, as Decatur scored on its next trip down the field. Senior Zach Norwood sent an indirect free kick into the goal area. Senior Alex Chursky redirected the ball with a header across the goal mouth. Colbath was there to tap the ball in with his foot.

Decatur took the lead 20 minutes into the game when McCluskey sent the ball through the defense at midfield. Chursky outran his defenders and chipped the ball over the sliding Monroe goalkeeper. The ball dropped just under the cross bar for the goal.

Decatur put the game out of reach in the 36th minute off a corner kick. The Gators had nine corner kicks to that point in the game, and Klein had sent all of them across in front of the goal. This time, however, Klein dumped a short pass to McCluskey, who passed the ball in to Colbath, who headed the ball in to the goal on the near post.

“Alex and I go against eachother at practice in scrimmages,” Colbath said of his heading ability. “That helps.”

McCluskey earned his third assist when he made a short pass to junior Mike Gilpin, who scored off the crossbar.

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