Aberdeen’s dream of a state title berth are still alive after pulling off a 3-1 win on the road against Centralia on Thursday in the 2A District IV Tournament.
The Bobcats (12-4-1 overall) will face Ridgefield in the district’s consolation final at 3:30 today. The winner heads to Sumner to compete for a state title.
Aberdeen fullback Christian Sanchez had a hard time putting the game, and the season thus far, in perspective in the immediate aftermath of the victory.
“There’s so much excitement right now. I’m not even sure what’s going through my mind, but I sure am happy right now.”
Aberdeen didn’t waste too much time getting the scoring started. Antonio Torres made a run into the box to beat Centralia keeper Jacob Fink short side after receiving a pass from Hulizes Chavez.
Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming said the 11th-minute goal exemplified the improved ball movement the Bobcats have displayed lately.
“We’re winning the ball in the air, which is crucial, and when we get the ball the communication is quicker and we’re passing quicker,” he said.
The Bobcats kept the pressure on and broke through with another goal in the 23rd minute from Enrique Cuevas, who headed in a cross from Chavez to give Aberdeen a 2-0 lead.
Centralia (10-6-1) responded with a goal a minute later with Alex Alvarenga burying a close-range shot after getting a pass from the right edge of the box.
Fleming reminded his players on the field to not let up defensively and the Bobcats back line responded as the Tigers didn’t put another shot on target until the second half.
The Bobcats, however, weren’t done scoring as Chavez added an insurance tally in stoppage time of the first half. Chavez shot from just inside the box and beat Fink as he dove to his left, capping off Aberdeen’s scoring just before the conclusion of the first half.
Centralia didn’t score in the second half, but it wasn’t for a lack of chances as the Tigers looked to put more pressure on in search of the equalizer.
The Tigers had four shots on target in the second half, but the combination of solid play at the back and steady play from Bobcats keeper Luis Soto kept the game at a two-goal margin.
Sanchez said he and the rest of the back line would have to keep the same energy they had in the first half to prevent Centralia from drawing even.
“We knew they were coming in hard, so we just tried to keep focused and play it like it was still 0-0,” he said.
Aberdeen’s defenders were under siege for the first 15 minutes of the second half, but the Bobcats had a few chances of their own.
Chavez had a mostly open net to take advantage of and saw his shot sail over the cross bar in the 57th minute.
Rigo Alavez also had a one-on-one opportunity but Fink dove to his left and made a save to keep his team in the game in the 68th minute.
Fleming was mostly pleased with the team’s conservative approach, but would have liked to convert on another goal scoring chance down the stretch.
“Up two goals, we’re not going to take too many chances,” he said. “They had a few shots on goal, but if you look at the whole game we dominated shots on goal.”
After opening districts with a 1-0 loss to Woodland, the Bobcats have scored seven times in their last two matches.
Fleming thinks his team’s improved offense could give his unit the edge against a Ridgefield team that has also suffered from offense struggles at times.
“They are the third seed like us, so I think we’re really comparable. They’ve struggled to score like us but I think we’re starting to come out of that,” he said. “We’re playing for state now. We made it this far so I’m sure we’ll be motivated.”
Elma 5, PWV 3
Down 3-2 in the top of the sixth, Elma used some timely hitting and aggressive base running to score three runs and secure victory the 5-3 victory over Pe Ell-Willapa Valley in Menlo on Thursday.
The Eagles (18-1, 7-1 Evergreen 1A) started their game-winning rally with a dropped third strike, which set the table for Jalyn Whipple, who drove in the tying run with a double.
Whipple eventually scored on an infield error and Kali Rambo, who also reached on error, stole a base and came across to score on error.
Rambo said her team remained confident though they were down late in the game.
“We’re very confident right now and we know that everyone is going to make a play when it matters even if you’re having a bad game,” she said.
The game was a pitcher’s duel for most of the afternoon, with PWV starter Olivia Matlock striking out eight batters and Elma’s Quin Mikel not allowing a runner to reach scoring position until the fourth inning.
Elma struck early with a run in the first inning, but the Eagles were kept off the board until the fourth inning.
The Titans (16-4, 12-0 Pacific 2B) tied the game with a run in the fourth thanks to a Jeorgi Ritzman single and temporarily took the lead with a Kamryn Adkins single in the fifth.
PWV head coach Ken Olson was disappointed by the close losses to Elma on Thursday and Montesano on Monday, but expects that his team will be prepared for the district tournament.
“There’s no question we’ll be ready. We had a couple of games where we didn’t play at our best, but we played two of the top teams in the state,” he said. “(Elma) is a good team, but these guys are winners and we’re going to be fine.”
The matchup served as a bit of a tune up before both teams enter postseason play.
PWV gets a first round bye in the 2B District IV tournament and will play the winner of North Beach and Morton-White Pass at noon on Wednesday in Centralia.
Elma will also be playing on Wednesday in Centralia, facing King’s Way Christian in the opening round of the IA District IV tournament. First pitch is scheduled for noon.
Aberdeen 8, Rochester 2
Aberdeen catcher Sierra Hammond came up with three key at-bats and pitcher Jalyn McDaniel kept Rochester off balance in the Bobcats 8-2 win over the Warriors.
Hammond hit two sacrifice flies and knocked in two more runs with a double to lead the offensive attack for Aberdeen (7-10, 6-8 Evergreen 2A).
Aberdeen head coach said it was good to see everything click in the last regular season game before the district tournament.
“The kids played great tonight. A lot of bloopers have been seeming to kill us all year, but Hailey Wilson killed it today. She pretty much caught everything that was possible to catch,” he said. “With all the things we worked on throughout year it was nice to see everything come together.”
Girls Prep Golf
Centralia 74, Aberdeen 43 (Stableford scoring)
Girls Prep Tennis
Montesano 4, Three Rivers Chr. 1
Forks 8, Ocosta 3
Hoquiam 17, Napavine 9