White Salmon edges Elma, 1-0, in district boys soccer loser-out game

ELMA — Elma’s journey from the start of the season through Tuesday’s District IV 1A boys soccer first round saw the Eagles progressive improve and make a little history.

Unfortunately on Tuesday evening, the Eagles’ journey came to an end when Columbia-White Salmon deflected a long throw-in into the net in the 54th minute for the lone goal for a 1-0 victory at Davis Field.

The loss for Elma ends its season, which saw it earn a share of the Evergreen 1A League title for the first time in more than a decade, at 8-8-1.

“Overall, we lost a lot of guys last year; in fact, we lost (a lot of) seniors in two years,” Elma head coach Carson Seaberg said. “Looking at this group and our early-season scores, I don’t think people expected much. We had to train them up, they stuck with it and they played hard. We were in position to win tonight, but sometimes games don’t go your way.”

The eventual game-winning goal came in a tense second half that was ushered in by an evenly played first half.

Both teams showed off their stout defensive prowess — Elma didn’t allow White Salmon’s runs to get anywhere inside the penalty area, while the Bruins shut off the Eagles’ offense at midfield — in the opening 40 minutes.

Even with the defenses winning most of the battles, both teams had chances. Elma’s best early chance came when Trace Thompson’s flick header off a long cross just didn’t have enough power on it to threaten White Salmon goalkeeper Leonardo Guerrero-Cortez in the 10th minute.

White Salmon’s shots in the first half all but came from outside 25 yards from goal. The only one inside the penalty area came in the 26th minute — a hard-driven, spinning low shot that Elma goalkeeper AJ Hernandez had to fall into the low left corner to save.

Both teams greeted halftime enthusiastically and returned for the second half with different game plans — increased attacks on offense and quick clearances on defense.

Thompson and Adonis Torres each had great chances to notch Elma into the lead. Torres’ hard, left-footed shot went low for the corner, but into the hands of Guerrero in the 42nd minute. Thompson got a foot onto a well-placed shot from Carlos Bautista to redirect it onto goal. Guerrero contorted himself into a pretzel for the save.

One minute later, Rogelio Olivares gave White Salmon the lead. On a counter-attack, forward Liam Grimm took the throw in from 35 yards out and lofted the ball into the middle of the penalty area. Olivares, with a defender on him, got a foot onto the throw to lob it over Hernandez’s head and into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead.

From there, Elma pressed for the equalizer. Thompson had two chances at goal and Torres had one in the final 10 minutes of the match. In extra time, Torres’ step and shot from 15 yards out went just over the crossbar. Thompson had a 20-yard free kick do the same thing and his final shot, a stop-turn-and-shoot spot from 18 yards out, was saved as the final whistle blew.

“I don’t think we gave them many chances, just distance shots,” Seaberg said. “When we’ve been successful, we’ve been tight on defense and transition into the offense up front. We had shots, but not enough pace on them.”