Nursing a 1-0 lead just two minutes before halftime, Bellarmine Prep coach Joe Waters was making plans to talk about a conservative game plan for his team in the second half of its Class 4A state quarterfinal game against Puyallup.
His players had other ideas; they wanted to stay aggressive.
And Cooper Doxon’s goal in the 38th minute hammered the point home.
The Lions took advantage of a 2-0 halftime lead, and added two more goals in the second half, running away with a 4-1 quarterfinal win over the Vikings on Saturday night at Harry Lang Stadium.
Bellarmine (14-1-2) will play Central Kitsap at 7 p.m. Friday in the 4A state semifinals at Sparks Stadium. It’s the Lions’ seventh appearance in the semifinals under Waters.
Doxon scored the momentum-changing goal on a header off a precise throw-in from senior Michael Rector. Doxon timed his jump perfectly and redirected Rector’s toss into the back corner.
“We work on that a lot at practice,” Rector said of the throw-in plays. “Practice makes us as close to perfect as it can be. (I) just got a good throw-in and Cooper got his head on it.”
While the goal wasn’t a game-winner, it delivered a huge blow to Puyallup and allowed the Lions to be more aggressive in the second half.
“We scored the second goal at a really good time for us and a really bad time for them,” Waters said. “It certainly changed the whole feeling in the (locker) room. Now you’ve got a 2-0 lead and you’re a lot more comfortable.”
Puyallup coach Matt White agreed.
“That was the one where we went, ‘ah,’ ” White said of Doxon’s goal.
That aggressive mentality showed on the field, as senior Kurtis Pederson added another goal — his second of the game — in the 53rd minute, beating a defender, cutting to the middle and launching a shot past T.J. Josephson from 10 yards out.
“We were playing as a team and definitely attacking hard,” Pederson said. “We just wanted to play together and show everyone what we’ve got.”
Rector tacked on one more later in the half, intercepting a misplayed kick back to the goalie and scoring easily.
“We knew when they were more aggressive, we’d kind of pick them apart more when they were more spread out,” Rector said.
But Puyallup (16-4) couldn’t muster much of a push offensively in the second half, with its best attempt at a goal coming off a rebound after a corner kick midway through the half.
Bellarmine goalkeeper Eric Bottjer made a diving save on it to maintain the Lions’ 3-0 lead.
“The boys were very motivated tonight,” Waters said. “They really wanted to win this game, and they went about it in a very business-like manner.”
Shohieb Azami scored Puyallup’s goal in the 79th minute.
“For us, our goals have been team first, and continuous improvement,” White said. “This has been a really great group of guys to work with.”