Soccer: Federal Way takes out the Trojans

Five different Eagles scored in the 5-1 win.

The Federal Way High School boys soccer team registered a game in the win column for the first time during the 2023 season.

“It’s a very special day. I feel proud to represent my school and take the win,” junior Medichael Mereste.

“The difference this year is the boy’s ability to be humble and intense. They also don’t let adversity get to them. The chemistry is really strong with this group,” Head Coach Max Pope said.

The Eagles took down the Auburn Trojans by a score of 5-1 in their first home game of the season. Federal Way bounced back after taking a tough loss to a good Emerald Ridge squad.

“We have clearly stepped it up from last season … I’m really proud of these boys because what came out of this game is what we have been working on in practice,” Pope said.

It’s been a while since Federal Way’s boys soccer team has made it to the postseason, but for Coach Pope, this group may break that dry spell.

“We have the experience, we have the ability this year … It ultimately comes down to chemistry and these boys need to have the mentality that they’ll give it all for their brothers,” said Pope.

The Eagles have dominated Auburn in recent history. Dating back to March 30, 2018, the Eagles haven’t lost to the Trojans, going 4-0-1. Over those five games, the Eagles have outscored Auburn 17-3. But with the win, that ratio is now up to 22-4.

Federal Way came out of the gates very strong, controlling possession in threatening areas to begin the game.

Every so often against the normal rhythm of play, Auburn would take the ball in the Federal Way defensive area, but never threatened the Eagles’ keeper, senior Aidan Strickler.

The first goal for the Eagles came in the 12th minute of the game. Federal Way junior Medichael Mereste put the ball in the back of the net, giving Federal Way a 1-0 lead.

“When we score first, it motivates us to play harder,” Mereste said.

Auburn was able to break the 1,812-day scoreless drought to the Eagles. In the 20th minute, the Trojans tied the game up on a free kick.

Federal Way responded, taking the lead into the halftime break. Junior Gabriel Dizon was on the end of a pass from Mereste. After the halftime whistle, the Eagles were on top of the Trojans, 2-1.

“I told the boys at half time, ‘you’re looking like a team that should be up by a lot more, so now it’s time to start putting the ball in the back of the net,’ and they did a great job of that in the second half,” Pope said.

The second half was all Eagles the entire period. Within the first 10 minutes of the second half, the Eagles built on their lead. In the 48th minute, senior Nehemeya Mekkonen cashed in and scored his first goal of the game, putting the Eagles out front, 3-1.

Over the next 20 minutes, the Eagles went scoreless, and both teams struggled to create pressure on each other’s defense. The Eagles, fourth goal came from an assist by freshman Joshua Ruiz Perez with senior Mohammad Kamren on the receiving end. With 10 minutes to go, Federal Way was in the driver’s seat, leading 4-1.

The final goal of the contest was in the 74th minute, and it was tallied by two substitutes for Pope’s squad. Senior Jose Mari Lansang sent a cross into the box and Juan Morales-Zavalsa found the back of the net.

In the entire second half, Auburn may have put one shot on goal, which is a credit to the Eagles’ back line.

“I don’t have to do much coaching and I’m happy about that. I think they’ll lead the whole team going forward this year,” Pope said.

Federal Way’s next league game is March 24 against Auburn Riverside on the road.

Medichael Mereste fights off a slew of Auburn defenders. Ben Ray / The Mirror

Medichael Mereste fights off a slew of Auburn defenders. Ben Ray / The Mirror