The last time the Montesano boys soccer team earned a spot in the state tournament, the current crop of Bulldogs were very young.
A long streak without a state tournament berth was snapped as the Bulldogs got first-half goals from Levi Clements and Mateo Sanchez en route to a 2-0 win over King’s Way Christian on Thursday at Seton Catholic High School.
Facing elimination against a Knights team that nearly defeated top-seed Elma in Tuesday’s semifinal, Montesano (13-5 overall) played intelligent, fundamental soccer to advance to the state tournament for the first time since 2010.
The Bulldogs got on the board in the 19th minute when sophomore forward Levi Clements brought the ball up the wing and sent it toward the KWC net.
A Knights center back looked to clear the ball out, but the pursuing Clements got in the way of the clearance. The ball deflected off Clements’ shoulder and over the KWC defense. Clements ran around the KWC keeper, used his body to collect the ball, then dribbled the ball across the goal line to put Monte up 1-0.
“That first goal was a huge confidence-booster,” Montesano head coach Fidel Sanchez said. “They are a better possession team than we are. We knew we were going to have a tough game in front of us.”
What followed was a chess match of attack and counter-attack with Montesano earning a corner kick in the 23rd minute. Midfielder Mateo Sanchez took the kick and bent the ball over the KWC keeper and inside the far post for a goal, doubling the Montesano lead.
“In first half, we kept getting corners and eventually Mateo made them pay,” Coach Sanchez said of his son’s Olympico. “It was a beautiful shot.”
The Bulldogs defense then took over. Led by Sanchez, who cleaned up anything loose that got through from his center-mid position and junior defender Cole Ekerson, who was marked up against KWC freshman offensive dynamo Luke Gomes.
Montesano was outshot 17-6, but Bulldogs keeper Jayden McElravy saved all seven KWC shots that found their way on goal to preserve the victory.
Coach Sanchez said the two-goal lead at halftime surprised the Knights and that his team’s defensive mindset is what earned them the victory.
“Going up 2-0 at half, that really shocked (KWC). They really didn’t know how to respond to that,” he said. “We took advantage of it and started playing mental games with them. We were really, really tough defensively. … Every player that got in the game for us gave us 100% defensive effort and that’s what it takes to win in the postseason.”
“It felt amazing,” Clements said of the win, offering the Bulldogs weren’t very confident before the game after scouting the Knights (10-5-1). “We went into the game thinking we were going to get annihilated, but we prevailed. … They had really good passing and ball control and we were expecting them to maintain control.”
According to Coach Sanchez, Ekerson’s play on Gomes and getting early goals threw a monkey wrench into the Knights’ plans.
“(Gomes) is probably one of the best players in the district,” he said. “We upset their game plan. It worked for us. On defense we were very well organized tonight.”
Montesano is scheduled to play Columbia-White Salmon in the district’s third-place game on Saturday, but because both teams have already earned a spot in the state tournament and will be re-seeded before the tournament begins on Tuesday, it was not known if the game will be played or not at the time of this writing.
State-tournament seeding is expected to be released by Sunday afternoon.
King’s Way Christian 0 0 — 0
Montesano 2 0 — 2
First half — 1, Montesano, Levi Clements, 19th minute. 2, Montesano, Sanchez, 23rd minute.
Second half — none.
Aberdeen 2, Rochester 1
Aberdeen kept its season alive and will compete for a spot in the 2A State Tournament after a 2-1 win over Rochester on Thursday at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
The Bobcats (12-3-1) owned the majority of possession in the first half, but found trouble finishing without the services of injured senior forward and leading scorer Miguel Martinez (knee) and senior defender Logan Sias.
With Aberdeen continuing to pressure, Bobcats midfielder Luke Niemi was fouled in the penalty area, giving Aberdeen a penalty kick.
Bobcats junior midfielder Edwin Quintana converted the opportunity to put the Cats up 1-0.
In the second half, Aberdeen caught a break when Quintana sent a corner kick toward the Rochester goal. The ball was deflected off a Warriors player and into the back of the net to give the Bobcats a 2-0 lead in the 50th minute.
In the final two minutes of the game, Rochester (8-11) scored on a long shot but never got another shot on goal as Aberdeen advanced in the 2A District 4 Tournament.
“Our possession and defense were excellent and if our finishing was a little better then the game is not close at all,” said Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming, citing Isaiah Johnson for playing well in Sias’ place and Gilberto Lopez for marking up on Rochester’s biggest offensive threat. “Very happy with our overall team performance.”
With the win, Aberdeen advances to face WF West in an elimination game set for 6 p.m. Saturday at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
Aberdeen won both regular-season meetings over the Bearcats by scores of 1-0 and 2-1.
The winner will advance to the state tournament with the loser’s season coming to an end.
Rochester 0 1 — 1
Aberdeen 1 1 — 2
First half — 1, Aberdeen, Quintana (penalty kick), 25th minute.
Second half — 2, Aberdeen, own goal, 50th minute. 3, Rochester, N/A, 80th minute.
Grays Harbor College Adult Rec League
Thursday, May 12
Sneaker Krew 58, Taholah 50
Sneaker Krew — Sam Johnson 23, Kobe Rudolph 11. Taholah — Justin Curleybear 13.
Good Squad 55, Coffee Shop 49
Goon Squad — Payton Forvour 21, Levi Edlin 14. Coffee Shop — Sol Dearborne 16.
Chokers 64, Panch State University 37
Chokers — Nico Casteneda 21, Logan Walker 14. PWC — Aaron Lano 15.