Skyline High School coach Don Braman can breathe a little easier now. He has done his part in protecting the reputation of KingCo Conference boys soccer.
The Spartans knocked off Puyallup, 2-0, on Wednesday in a first-round game of the Class 4A state tournament at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Skyline moves on to the quarterfinals, where it plays Snohomish, a 2-1 winner over Rogers of Puyallup.
“The KingCo has been knocked around so far this playoffs,” Braman said. “After seeing Gig Harbor beat Issaquah (2-1) in a shootout, it’s become our turn to represent the conference.”
After a quiet first half, Skyline (14-1-3) made a few adjustments, mainly moving midfielder Armeen Badri to forward as teammate Jason Twaddle couldn’t break away from the double-teams he was seeing in Puyallup’s box.
“We saw Jason was having trouble up front so we added a man to help him out,” Spartans midfielder Nate Hardwick said.
Hardwick, Skyline’s throw-in specialist, launched a throw that looked like a corner kick deep into the Puyallup box, and the Vikings’ defense headed it straight to Badri just outside the left side of the box. He launched a left-footed shot that found the right side of the goal in the 53rd minute for a 1-0 Spartans lead.
“It was a good throw, and I was able to get it,” Badri said. “(At the half) it wasn’t about strategy. … It was about coming out, coming out prepared to play. We knew we could really step it up than what we did in the first half.”
Skyline’s second goal came after Hardwick started a breakaway down the right side then crossed to Badri on the opposite side. After juking a defender, Badri found Twaddle with a back heel at the top of the box.
Twaddle powered the 15-yard shot through the diving hand of Puyallup goalkeeper Jack Rose for a 2-0 lead.
“This is sort of a new team, and we knew we had to be ready coming out on the road,” Badri said. “We know we’re prepared. … We have a good attitude, and we just want to be ready and be prepared.”
Puyallup (13-5-1) had several late scoring chances, but Skyline’s Jack O’Keefe had several big saves.
At Snohomish 2, Rogers 1: Both goals by the Wesco champion Panthers (17-2) came off set pieces — one by Uriel Herrera off a corner kick, the other by Jason Fairhurst off a long throw at Memorial Stadium.
Rogers (12-3-4) battled back and cut it to 2-1 on Derric Floyd’s 12-yard shot inside the left post off an assist from Jose Valentin.
Valentin hit the crossbar with a shot in the 70th minute, but the Rams could not complete their comeback.
At Squalicum 7, Sumner 0: Quinn Carpenter got the 2009 Class 2A champion going with a goal in the ninth minute and assisted off a long throw-in two minutes later as the Storm (18-0-2) pounded the Spartans (10-8) at Civic Stadium in Bellingham.Staff writer Todd Milles contributed to this report.