Sports

Boys soccer: Beamer, TJ, Federal Way all headed to 16-team state tournament; Decatur upset by Puyallup

Beamer goalkeeper Ben Draeger jumps for the ball during the Titans
Beamer goalkeeper Ben Draeger jumps for the ball during the Titans'2-0 win over South Kitsap Saturday at the West Central District Tournament at Art Crate Stadium. Beamer will travel to Vancouver Tuesday, May 18, to take on the Evergreen Plainsmen in the opening round of the state tournament.
— image credit: Kenny Gatlin/For the Mirror

By CHRIS CHANCELLOR

Port Orchard Indpendent

Just call it the process of elimination.

For a third consecutive year, South Kitsap and Todd Beamer met in the West Central District Tournament facing that prospect.

That scenario favored the Titans for the second time in three seasons as they won 2-0 to end the Wolves' hopes of defending their Class 4A state title Saturday at Spanaway's Art Crate Field.

Coach James Ritchie said his team's loss followed a similar pattern as others this year. South, which finished with a 9-6-2 record, only lost twice by more than one goal. Ritchie said the team's problems stem from mental errors more so than effort, which he called outstanding.

"All of the tactics in the world don't help if the little things are happening," he said. "I'm really disappointed. I feel like this came to a premature end."

Ritchie felt his team put itself in a tougher position when it lost against Stadium and Bellarmine Prep in the Narrows League playoffs. That left the Wolves with the league's No. 4 seed, while Todd Beamer (13-2-3) advanced as the South Puget Sound League's third team.

The Titans will take on the Evergreen Plainsmen at 7 p.m. at Vancouver's McKenzie Stadium Tuesday night. Evergreen advanced into the state tournament after falling behind 3-0 in the first half to beat Eastlake, 5-4, in a district game Saturday. The Plainsmen were ranked No. 3 in the most recent Seattle Times state rankings. Beamer was ranked seventh in the same poll.

"We had chances to go in there and make it more solid and we never achieved that," Ritchie said. "It's sore. I feel bad for the seniors because they deserve to keep going."

But junior Ugo Okoli, who had a goal and an assist to help the Titans upset South in 2008, seemed determined to prevent that. He assisted on sophomore Austin Sweeney's goal in the 19th minute.

"We weren't really thinking about them being state champions," said Okoli, whose team lost in a shootout against the Wolves in 2009. "They beat us last year and we just had to beat them this year."

South switched to a 3-3-4 late in the second half in an effort to score, but instead Okoli became open and beat goalkeeper Nick Henry in the 78th.

"We needed a goal and they scored," Ritchie said. "That's just the nature of the beast when you try something like that."

The Wolves' best scoring opportunities seemed to come late in the first half when sophomore Diego de la Cruz narrowly missed shots in the 37th and 38th.

"In the last 10 minutes of the first half we put a lot of pressure on them," Ritchie said. "We had a couple of chances that didn't go in."

Senior Austin Arper, who finished with a team-best 19 goals this year for South, missed a cross from junior Dallas Brewster in the 71st. Arper said he was diagnosed with tendonitis in his right Achilles tendon after the league tournament.

"It's tough because every time I go to accelerate, it's nagging on me," he said, adding that it is more problematic playing on turf. "I had some opportunities — I was trying to fight through the pain."

Both Arper and Ritchie felt the Wolves had chances to score, but just could not convert. And both agreed that was a reoccurring theme.

"For some reason this year it seems that the soccer gods haven't been with us," Ritchie said. "Just when we needed them, they aren't there.

"Maybe I need to start going to church."

In other WCD soccer action:

Jefferson 4, Wilson 1: The SPSL champion Raiders (13-4-1) had little trouble with the Wilson Rams Saturday at the West Central District Tournament. The Raiders had four different players score during the 4-1 win at Art Crate Stadium.

The win gave TJ the district's No. 2 seed into the 16-team state tournament. The Raiders will host the Marysville-Pilchuck Tomahawks at 7:30 p.m. at Federal Way Memorial Stadium Tuesday.

Jefferson dominated play against Wilson, the fifth seed from the Narrows League. Austin Egerton got the scoring going for the Raiders when he scored TJ's first goal in the 11th minute of the game on an assist from Matthew Cruz. It was Egerton's 17th goal of the season. Cruz made it 2-0 in the 34th minute on an assist from Isidro Prado-Huerta.

Wilson got right back in the game four minutes later when Conner Pichette tallied the Rams' only goal of the game to tighten the score to 2-1 at halftime.

But the Raiders put the game away in the second half on goals from Casey Kim and Chase Hanson. Kim scored in the 54th minute on another assist from Cruz and Hanson added a penalty kick.

Federal Way 1, Gig Harbor 0: While the Gig Harbor Tides were winning the rugged Narrows League championship, the Federal Way Eagles didn't even know they would qualify for the postseason. The Eagles (10-5-3) had to win their final SPSL North game to snare the division's fourth and final berth into the league tournament.

But that didn't matter Saturday as the Eagles downed the Tides, 1-0 in overtime, in the winner-to-state, loser-out West Central District game at Mount Tahoma High School.

Senior forward Kelyn Rowe broke through the tight Gig Harbor defense three minutes into the overtime session and beat the Tides goalkeeper at the far post to give Federal Way its first state berth since 2007, when they played in the state title game. The UCLA-bound Rowe has scored 26 goals during the season in 18 matches.

Federal Way will host Snohomish, the Northwest District’s third seed, in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs at 5:30 p.m. at Federal Way Memorial Stadium on Tuesday.

Puyallup 1, Decatur 0: The SPSL South-champion Gators (12-5-1) suffered a heart-breaking overtime loss to the Puyallup Vikings Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School.

After playing to a 0-0 tie during regulation time, Puyallup's Trevor Whitt tallied the only goal of the game two minutes into the overtime session. The goal gave the Vikings, the fifth seed from the SPSL, a berth into the 16-team state tournament.

Puyallup (12-2-4), which earned the district’s No. 3 seed, will host Skyline in the first round of state. Tyler Josephson had the shutout in goal for the Vikings.

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