Boys soccer

Kentwood stops top-ranked Skyview, earns No. 1 seed to state tourney

Contributing writerMay 17, 2014 

Mason Rudolph plays forward for Kentwood’s soccer team, but his preferred position is a tad loftier.

“That’s my favorite spot to be in,” he said, “when I get to be the hero.”

And that is what happened Saturday as his overtime goal gave the Conquerors a 1-0 victory over top-ranked Skyview of Vancouver in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict championship game at Mount Tahoma High School.

Rudolph, a freshman, credited a pair of midfielders with setting him up for the goal in the 86th minute, which helped his team secure a No. 1 seed to the state tournament.

He scored on a pass from junior Aidan Gray, who took a header from senior Brandyn Bangsund.

“The team had a great build-up,” Rudolph said. “I was on (the defender’s) back shoulder and he couldn’t see me, so I knew I could take a chance on the front post.”

Kentwood coach Aaron Radford said he felt his sixth-ranked team (13-2-3) played well in the opening period, but that they struggled offensively in the second half.

“The run of play was kind of rough in terms of we didn’t get the ball enough,” he said. “But perseverance is big.”

Radford was especially pleased with Rudolph, who tallied his 11th goal of the season.

“We’ve had good, quality players in my time with the program,” he said, “but we haven’t had a freshman come in who has been able to contribute as much in terms of points and goals.”

Kentwood missed an opportunity to score in the 15th minute as Bangsund took a point-blank shot after Storm keeper Josh Townsend failed to gather a loose ball. The attempt went over the crossbar.

Skyview coach Jennifer Johnson said a lack of mental focus was a contributing factor for her team.

Senior midfielder Carter Johnson, the two-time Gatorade state player of the year, missed two opportunities in the first half.

In the 39th, Johnson made a header on frame from about 15 yards out, but the ball fell into Kentwood keeper Admir Kucalovic’s hands. Johnson also attempted a shot from 10 yards out in the 43rd.

“The finishing has been a struggle in the last couple of games ...” Jennifer Johnson said. “It’s something we have to initiate, and we just weren’t on top of today.”

Still, Rudolph said the Storm (16-1-3) proved to be a good test for the Conquerors, which beat Gig Harbor in a shootout Thursday.

“They’re a top team, and I got exactly what I thought we would,” he said. “If we keep capitalizing on these changes against all these good teams, we’re the best in the state.”

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