The Washington Premier FC U17 White squad of Puyallup was trying to avoid consecutive disappointments.
After narrowly losing in the final of the Presidents Cup state championship last year, the boys were in a similar situation Feb. 21 when they trailed Eastside FC of Preston late in regulation. A miracle seemed too far gone.
“The ref had the whistle in his mouth,” coach Abdella Hussen said.
But he didn’t blow it. With less than 10 seconds remaining, an Eastside defender scored an own goal on a misdirected header. WPFC got the miracle — and didn’t forget it. Halfway through the overtime period, forward Paxton Reunanen drew out Eastside’s goalie on a through ball, and passed it into the back of the net.
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“We knew form the start that we were going to win state — there was no doubt,” Reunanen said. “We knew that from the beginning, that (last year) wasn’t going to happen again.”
Reunanen turned out to be right, as WPFC cruised by the Spokane Shadow, 4-1, at Starfire Sports in Tukwila, after knotting it at one shortly before the half.
“That was super fun,” said midfielder Levi Woolley, who scored in the final. “We kept pushing on and ended up scoring three times in the second half. We knew we were state champions, and it was a really good feeling with all of the hard work from last year.”
The win was a satisfying crescendo for many of the boys, who have played together for Hussen since age 12.
“I build a family atmosphere,” Hussen said. “That’s the only way to keep the momentum going.”
The momentum peaked in the final for the squad, which has never advanced this far in competition, but will be placed on the back burner as the high school season gets underway.
“It’s going to be hard because we’re not going to play with each other for three months,” said Woolley, a junior at Puyallup High. “We’ll probably have three or four practices just getting ready to go and gelling back together again.”
The Presidents Cup regional competition is June 9-14 at Stocker Fields in Snohomish, where the U17 Whites will represent Washington against teams from Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, California and Hawaii. A regional win would qualify the boys for the national tournament in Kansas in July.
The U17 White squad was one of four WPFC teams to win state tournaments in February, a list which included the U17 Blacks, U16 Navys and U15 Whites.