Aberdeen punched its ticket into the state 2A tournament field with a 2-1 win over Ridgefield in a District IV 2A tournament match at Stewart Field on Tuesday.
After losing to the Spudders in the District tournament 1-0 each of the past two seasons, the Bobcats hit the pitch ready to avenge the losses and make the third time the charm. However, Ridgefield controlled the pace of play for much of the first 15 minutes. Aberdeen was finally able to begin to work on possession of the ball and turned in two quick goals, one just before and one shortly after halftime, to take down the Spudders.
“Having lost two times to them at their place made us want this win even more, especially at our home,” Aberdeen senior Miguel Torres said. “We all played great from the defenders to midfielders up to forwards, every single player played aggressive. We out-passed them once we started really passing the ball and that showed that we can play better as a team.”
“That is probably the best team we have played all year and they came out on fire and aggressive and it took us a few minutes to get our feet under us,” Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming said. “We just told the guys, ‘Let’s start knocking it around a little bit.’ As we got more aggressive winning the ball up front we were able to flick it and send the ball. Our control got better as the game went on.”
Aberdeen will now play Columbia River for the District IV title on Thursday at Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver.
The Spudders came out firing and put three shots on goal and earned two corners in the first 12 minutes of play before Aberdeen was able to take a shot. Once the Bobcats settled in, they allowed just one more shot on goal during the rest of the first half and took control of the contest.
With just more than eight minutes left in the first half, Aberdeen’s Tony Oropeza put the Bobcats in the lead for good. Torres sent a long pass on and Oropeza beat Ridgefield’s Cole Wagner in a foot race to the ball, yet Wagner clipped Oropeza. The junior midfielder was able to battle back to his feet and take one touch to his left and chip the ball over the keeper to score.
“Tony’s goal was just about hustle,” Fleming said.
Aberdeen took a 1-0 lead into halftime, but it wouldn’t take long for the Bobcats to strike again. Torres got possession just inside the box, took one touch and chipped it by Wagner, who got tangled up with Torres and took him to the ground. Torres was awarded a penalty kick, which he blasted into the lower left corner to make it 2-0 less than three minutes into the second half.
“I was in the box and I just thought about beating the player that was behind me and I saw the open space and took it and they got me with contact,” Torres said. “PKs are something that I’ve worked on a lot this year. I practice them every single day in practice so I don’t miss.”
Ridgefield was able to get one back in the 56th minute when Travis Gottsch played a cross onto Drew Williams, who chipped the ball over Aberdeen keeper Alexis Garcia-Guzman.
From there, the Spudders pushed up, yet Aberdeen moved to five defenders and was able to keep them out of the net the rest of the way.
“I’m really proud of them that we were able to take on a team that is pretty physical and big and strong,” Fleming said. “We showed we deserved to be in this league and now we have a chance to win the district championship.”