The step up into the state 2A boys soccer tournament is one Aberdeen has taken before, but not against a fast opponent like Cedarcrest on Tuesday evening.
The Red Wolves possessed just as much speed as the Bobcats, plus kept the ball and controlled the pace of the match to secure a 2-0 win in the state 2A tournament first round at Stewart Field.
For Aberdeen, the Evergreen 2A Conference champions and District IV 2A runners-up, its season comes to an end at 15-4.
It was a rough way to finish a day that saw the entire Bobcats squad given a state-tournament celebration assembly at school, home-turf advantage and a loud, boisterous student section in the west end of the stadium.
“Overall, (everyone) played hard, played well against a really tough team,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “It was a great year. Thanks to everyone who came. We had great support from the school, the community and a shout out to our 13 seniors on the team.”
Cedarcrest’s pressure on Aberdeen’s defense was constant. The Red Wolves would use their counter-attack runs to make the Bobcats chase and defend, pinning them back into their penalty area.
AHS goalkeeper Alexis Garcia-Guzman made the first big save of the day in the 13th minute when Cedarcrest used a long crossing pass to switch the field and found midfielder Tanguy Cimetiere on the far left post. Cimetiere one-touched a powerful shot that Garcia blocked and deflected away from goal.
The Red Wolves’ best play, however, was getting the ball to senior captain Alden Massey on the run. The 6-foot-3 forward sprinted away on runs and used his body to shield Bobcat defenders trying to get the ball away.
In the 35th minute, Massey got a through ball to within 16 yards of goal. Using his body to shield a defender, he turned to his left, got space and drove a rocket shot past Garcia for a 1-0 lead.
Massey did the same thing in the second half for Cedarcrest’s second and final goal. He blocked out a defender and sent a low, skipping crossing pass to Caleb Chung, who one-timed his shot just inside the left post from 16 yards out in the 58th minute.
“That is a pretty good team,” Fleming said. “I thought we played well for the most part, but that is a big, fast, strong team that has a lot of skill. We made it a little easy for them, because we were off on our touches. I don’t know why. We should have controlled the ball better, but a part of that was them. They’re pretty aggressive.”
Aberdeen had its chances to score, but couldn’t find the right touch to convert. Cedarcrest goalkeeper Connor McCabe finished with three saves, all of them on corner kicks.
Luis Garcia nearly gave the Bobcats a 1-0 lead in the 23rd minute when he got a back-pass from Miguel Torres in space from 18 yards out. His shot, however, just cleared the crossbar.
Torres, Tony Oropeza and Garcia each had chances and touches on the ball that were destined for goal. Either the shots went just wide or they were blocked and cleared by Cedarcrest’s defense, which packed the penalty area to limit time and space.
Oropeza had a chance to make it interesting late, but his header off a poor clearance went just over the crossbar in the final minutes.
“Defensively, we played pretty well, with them sending in waves of offensive players and guys coming in from the back,” Fleming said. “Our guys, even down 2-0, they kept going, kept pushing, kept trying to score. I thought we handled ourselves pretty well.”