Gator attack is back

The Decatur soccer team earned a chance to defend last season’s state championship with a 3-0 win over Snohomish in the state quarterfinals last Friday at Federal Way Memorial Field.

The Gators are one of four teams left in the state playoffs. They play against Auburn Riverside at 5 p.m. Friday at Everett Stadium.

The winner of that game plays against the winner of the Kentwood versus Lewis and Clark game. The championship game is at 7 p.m. on Saturday at Everett Stadium.

“It’s great. It’s obviously where we want to be,” Decatur senior Alex Chursky said. “We have to get up for the competition and bring our ‘A’ game. You gotta have confidence and respect the team you’re playing, but not fear them. As a team, you control your own game. And if everyone wins their personal battles, you should win the game.”

Against Snohomish last weekend, Decatur was motivated by Snohomish-area newspaper reports where Snohomish players said, “Bring on Decatur.”

“You never challenge a champion,” Decatur coach Jim McAlister said. “It was a good read from the Everett Herald, where ever that is. It’s amazing, they’re in high school and they can read. These guys have a lot of pride. We can be beaten, but we’re not going to be intimidated.”

Decatur scored just three minutes into the game when Chursky broke away from two defenders down the left side and shot low to the far post for the goal.

Keeping his shots low to the ground is something Chursky said he learned from his father Tony, who played goalkeeper for the Tacoma Stars and Seattle Sounders professional soccer teams.

“He told me low shots were the most difficult to save, so I try to do it,” Chursky said. “Because it’s a recommendation from a professional goalkeeper.”

Chursky scored again 10 minutes later after Christian Scholze ran down the right side of the field and lobbed the ball across the goal to Chursky. Chursky outran his defender to the ball and volleyed it into the net.

“We played scared and with our hearts in our throats,” said the Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey. “We weren’t prepared for their speed. We had some opportunities, but we psyched ourselves out a little and it cost us. They spanked us right off.

“The whole talk in the news, what I said is that to be a state champion, you want to play the best. And Decatur is the best.”

He said Chursky presented match up problems for Snohomish.

“I talked about his speed, and it still caught us by surprise. We did a better job in the second half, but the bottom line is, pace-wise, we couldn’t stay with him,” he said.

Snohomish had its best opportunity to score with 18 minutes left in the first half. A Snohomish player found himself wide open in front of the goal, but his shot went directly to Decatur goalkeeper Kyle Bressler.

Decatur put the game away in the 31st minute when Snohomish scored an own goal against itself. The Gators’ Nick McCluskey sent a long indirect kick into the penalty box and the ball was deflected into the net.

Decatur outshot Snohomish 10-1 in the first half, but in the second half the teams were even, each with just two shots on goal.

The win sets up a rematch with Auburn Riverside on Friday. Auburn Riverside was a 1-0 winner over Curtis last week.

Decatur beat Auburn Riverside 1-0 earlier this season in the SPSL championship match.

It took overtime before the Gators could get a shot past Auburn Riverside goalkeeper Chris Eylander, who is headed to the University of Washington on a soccer scholarship.

The first time the teams played, Eylander blocked just about every shot Decatur kicked at him.

The good news for Decatur fans is that Auburn’s offense couldn’t muster more than a couple shots in the entire game. If the Gators can get an early goal, they’ll be playing for another state championship on Saturday.

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