Raiders roll over Kentridge


Sports editor

The Thomas Jefferson Raiders (15-1-1) took their first step toward winning their first state soccer championship since 1994. The Raiders downed Kentridge 2-1 Wednesday night to claim the South Puget Sound League championship at Sumner High School.

The win over the Chargers (11-2-2) gave the Raiders the No. 1 seed into today’s West Central District Tournament and a matchup with the South Kitsap Wolves. The Wolves finished up in sixth place in the Narrows League. The two teams will play at noon at Sumner High School in a single-elimination game.

“I watched them play last weekend,” said Jefferson coach Darren Sawatzky. “They are an extremely fit team that can run and run and run. In high school soccer that is something that is hard to break down.”

Sawatzky also said that South Kitsap will make a ton of substitutions during the game, including bringing in five new players at a time. In high school soccer there is no substitution rule, like professional soccer.

“It really ruins the flow of the game,” Sawatzky said. “The game of soccer is a game that flows and when you allow them to sub anytime it just throws away the flow. It is a hard way to play.”

Against Kentridge, the Raiders played a solid offensive first half, but just couldn’t put the ball in the net. The Charger defense held Jefferson scoreless and the first half ended in a 0-0 tie.

“We should have scored some goals,” Sawatzky said.

The second half was a different story for both offenses. The Raiders came out of the locker room after making some adjustments to their attack and it paid off just nine minutes into the second half. Midfielder Chris Henry took the ball through a pair of Kentridge defenders and hit a 20-yard shot by Charger goalkeeper Jeremy Piehler. The score was only Henry’s fourth of the season.

The Raiders extended their lead to 2-0 in the 62nd minute when sophomore Calvin Walsh also banged his fourth goal into the net past Piehler on a pass from midfielder Rafael Velazquez.

“The boys really showed up to play,” said Sawatzky. “We were pretty happy with it.”

Kentridge tried to comeback late in the second half, when their offense finally started putting some pressure on the Jefferson net. But the Raider defense and goalkeeper Matt Anderson proved too much for the SPSL North champs.

The Chargers’ lone goal came from all-league midfielder Craig Buitrago after he bounced the ball off Jefferson’s Chris Sanders into the net with less than a minute remaining in the game.

Sanders, who is heading to the University of Portland in the fall, was used as a decoy all night for Jefferson. The 6-foot-2 post-up striker drew numerous Kentridge defenders to him, allowing his teammates open-field looks.

“From now on it’s all about winning,” said Sawatzky. “On any day, anybody can beat anybody.”

From here out, the Class 4A soccer tournament is single elimination with the semifinals and finals being held at Camas High School, near Vancouver, on May 30-31.

Decatur 5, Kentwood 0

The two-time defending state champions overmatched the Kentwood Conquerors on Wednesday at Curtis High School, 5-0. Kentwood placed third in last year’s state championships and was the fourth-place team from the South Puget Sound League North Division. Decatur (13-2-2) finished third in the South behind Jefferson and Curtis.

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