Not even a 10-day wait and a little bit of rust could slow down the Class 4A South Puget Sound League South Division champion Puyallup High on Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
In the Vikings’ only game in the West Central District 3 boys soccer tournament, Puyallup picked up a decisive 4-1 victory over Northwest Division champion Mount Rainier. The win secures Puyallup (14-0-2) the district’s No. 3 seed heading into the state tournament.
“We loved the 10 days off, but you could see it was a little rusty,” Puyallup coach Matt White said. “But we just kept scoring goals ... we kept doing the things we wanted to and had players in the right spots.”
Rust or no rust, for much of Saturday’s game, Puyallup looked like the undefeated squad that ran confidently through the regular season, but that should be expected after “10 great days of practice,“ White noted.
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The win set up Puyallup’s first-round game at state against Inglemoor (10-2-3) at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Pop Keeney Stadium.
Right from the start Saturday the Vikings were clicking, putting Mount Rainier on its heels. Shortly into the game, a Puyallup defender launched the ball forward. Junior Papa Sylla flicked a backward header between two Ram defenders toward captain Trevor Lee, where Lee one-timed a pass toward Brad MacDougall.
MacDougall scored easily at the 6th minute mark to put the Vikings up 1-0.
“Someone played it up and Papa flicked it onto to Trevor,” MacDougall said. “Trevor, without looking up, just knew I was going to be there, and played it in behind them as I got right behind them.”
Puyallup didn’t let up after the goal, and controlled the ball in Mount Rainier’s territory for most of the first half.
In the 32nd minute, Tyler Nye found a loose ball in the Rams box to put the Vikings up 2-0 right before the half.
“I saw every time they got the ball, we just man marked,” Levi Woolley said. “(Within) two touches, we were on top of them. We had Trevor (Lee) and Papa (Sylla) all over the field.”
Puyallup went right back on the attack early in the second half, and as Jonathan Contreras made a cut toward goal, a Mount Rainier defender made a hard tackle that earned a penalty. Woolley fooled the Rams’ goalie during the penalty as he found the right corner to put Puyallup up 3-0 in the 45th minute.
“I was originally going to go left, and the guy started to jump to the left so I just passed it into the right corner,” Woolley said.
Holding down Mount Rainier’s strong offense only could last for so long as the Rams began to make a move on Puyallup late in the game. After Puyallup’s defense failed to make a clearance, Rams forward Alexander Harms jumped on the ball and broke up the shutout with a goal in the 70th minute.
“That goal was on us … we didn’t get the job done and clear the ball,” White said. “That goal made our goalie (Jake Johnston) mad, as he had a shutout going. Other than that blemish, our defense did a fantastic job as most of their shots came from (beyond) 20 feet.”
Puyallup forward Zach Munizza put Puyallup up 4-1 in stoppage time after finding a loose ball inside Mount Rainier’s box.