Sports

Decatur defense shoots down TJ

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

This time it counted for the Decatur and Thomas Jefferson soccer teams. And youth came out on top of experience when the Gators downed TJ, 1-0, Wednesday night at Federal Way Memorial Stadium.

The win was Decatur’s first over the Raiders since their state championship season of 2002. Jefferson swept the teams’ two meetings last season and tied 1-1 in a non-leaguer earlier this year.

“We competed well, in terms of effort,” said Decatur coach Jimmy McAlister. “It was a very, very choppy game.”

The only goal came in the 71st minute off the foot of senior midfielder Marty Klingebiel on a pass from super-sophomore Ciaran O’Brien. Klingebiel snuck it by Jefferson goalkeeper Tyler Jeffcoat.

Wednesday’s game was the South Puget Sound League South regular season opener following eight non-league games for both teams. This is the first year the league has played so many non-leaguers, due to the addition of Beamer. The win moves Decatur to 4-1-3 overall and 1-0 in the South and drops TJ to 5-2-1 overall and 0-1 in league.

“It’s kind of weird,” McAlister said. “I think we are going to have more practice games than real games. But for a young team like our’s, it’s good. It bodes well for the future.”

Against TJ, the Gators started seven freshmen or sophomores and another sophomore, Brad Reid, was in Ohio for spring break. But it was a pair of seniors that came up big — Klingebiel and all-league goalkeeper Kyle Bressler. Bressler stifled the attacking Raider offense, which is junior- and senior-oriented, all night long in one of his first full matches of the season. He returned from Ohio Monday after placing 12th at the National High School Coaches Association Senior Wrestling Championships. Bressler is a two-time state champ who is headed to Oregon State next year to wrestle.

“(Wrestling) was more important to him for his future than high school soccer,” McAlister said. “But he was just terrific in goal for us. He is the best goalie in the league and he showed that. (TJ) was unfortunate in front of the goal, but we are very fortunate to have a good goalkeeper.”

Last week also marked the return of O’Brien, who was in Germany playing on the United States under-17 regional soccer team.

“I think we have had one game this year where we have played with all our players available,” McAlister said. “We’ve had to move guys all over the place.”

Against the Raiders, Decatur played a “punching Judy” game all night long. The Gators sat back in their defensive zone, relying on their back line, led by sophomore Josh Norwood. Norwood, a natural forward, has been forced to play center fullback because of all the absences during the season.

“I know he would rather be flying by guys and scoring goals,” McAlister said. “But sometimes you have to suck it up and be a team player. Game-in and game-out, he might be our best player.”

Decatur 5, Federal Way 1

The Gators welcomed back O’Brien Monday night. The sophomore had a goal and an assist in a 5-1 non-league win over Federal Way.

Reymund Mills tallied the first goal of the match five minutes in on a pass from O’Brien. The Eagles tied the game on a goal from Gordon Chan in the 25th minute. But the Gators tallied the next four goals to seal the victory, including three in three minutes.

J’maar Aina scored in the 34th minute, followed by a Norwood goal in the 35th, O’Brien in the 37th and Ryon Stewart in the 75th minute.

Jefferson 1, Beamer 0

The Raiders beat Todd Beamer Monday, 1-0, in their final non-league game. The victory came after Jefferson lost 3-1 last week to SPSL North power Tahoma.

Michael Markey took a pass from Lamar Neagle and put it in the back of the net for the only goal of the game in the 48th minute. Chris Vining and Jeffcoat combined on the shut out in the goal for TJ.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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