4A state soccer: Kentwood falls behind early, can’t catch up

Contributing WriterMay 31, 2014 

Five times Kentwood High School boys soccer team has made it to the final four. And five times the Conquerors have not been able to get to the championship game.

On Friday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, Kentwood lost, 2-0, to Snohomish. Snohomish will play Ferris, winner of the other semifinal game, on Saturday at 5 p.m. for the 4A title.

Snohomish’s first goal came in the 21st minute when Gus Baxter scored from a left footed free kick from 20 yards out. On the goal, Kentwood’s goal keeper Admir Kucalovic left the back post exposed, giving the left footed Baxter the opportunity to curve it in.

“It’s been a long time since we were trailing in a game, playoffs or not, and I thought they were motivated when they gave up that goal because they thought they could do a little bit better defending the kick,” Kentwood head coach Aaron Radford said after his second state semifinal loss in his coaching tenure.

Looking for the tying goal late in the game, Kentwood got caught up field. Snohomish’s Tanner Corrie found himself on the end of a 50-yard free run and scored to make it 2-0 in the 77th minute.

“(Snohomish’s) ability to do what they wanted worked well tonight and our ability to do what we wanted never quite got itself running in the right direction,” Radford said. “There were glimpses of it, but not enough to really sustain much.”

Losing in the semifinals is a trend in Kent. Besides Kentwood, no Kent high school – Kent-Meridian, Kentlake or Kentridge – have all never made it to the state finals.

“It is hard when you’re in a district that has four high schools,” Radford said. “It’s not that we don’t have the population. But, it is a little different when you get up in certain areas where the majority of the kids may not play club together, but they may play at a high level of club and at a good high school together.

“There is a dilution in Kent, but that also provides for good talent across the board within our league, so it gives us a chance to prepare and better ourselves for the playoffs.”

Kentwood will play Skyview Saturday at noon for the chance to claim their fourth third place finish, last accomplished in 2011.

In the other semifinal, Ferris clinched their fourth trip to the state finals with a 3-2 victory over Skyview. All three of Ferris’ goals came via headers, with two coming from long throw-ins that Eric Hollenbaugh put in.

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