Tony Crudo would rather we believe the success of his Fife High School boys soccer team is because of his brilliant tactics and strategic prowess.
But the Trojans’ 3-1 victory over Foster in Saturday’s loser-out, winner-to-state match really came down to much more simple soccer.
“It’s just win,” said a smiling Crudo, whose own soccer career took him to a state championship with Shorecrest in 1976 and later even a World Cup qualifier with the U.S. national team.
“I would love to tell you we had these grand tactics, but it’s all about ‘Let’s try and win.’ It was really just about us moving bodies around to cover up the problems and to take advantage of the weaknesses.”
He recognized a weakness on the outside, hoping to play wider to spread out a strong Foster squad.
Fife’s Bryan Flores broke loose for a first-half goal and Axel Mejia put the Trojans up 2-0 in the second half when he got past the goalkeeper and struck the ball into the right corner of the net just inside the left post.
All that work on the outside opened up a lane in the middle of the field for Efren Monzon in the 73rd minute. He easily punched the ball past the keeper for his team-leading 20th goal of the season.
And that’s with Mack Smith on his team — the reigning 2A state player of the year — who scored 28 goals last season.
Smith missed 11 games with a sprained foot suffered against Franklin Pierce on March 27. He’s played in six matches — though he still isn’t 100 percent — yet has 13 goals.
Monzon was a defender before finding his niche at forward.
“I put three different players up there and finally he scored,” Crudo said. “So I was like, ‘OK, stay up there.’ ”
The Hornets, after placing fifth in their own league with a 7-7-0 2A SPSL record, earned the sixth seed to state.
The win sends 3A Narrows champion Central Kitsap to the state tournament, and will play at a date and time to be determined.
Sumner’s season ends at 12-6-0.
Auburn Riverside bounced back from a shutout loss to Central Kitsap this past Thursday to stave off elimination and clinch a state berth.
It’s the third district title in coach Shane Nixon’s 11-year tenure with Fife.
The Trojans (22-2) will host Cheney (13-10) in the Class 2A state tournament at Franklin Pierce at 1 p.m.
“We’ve been waiting for (that offensive outburst),” Nixon said. “We’ve faced two good pitchers at North Mason and Port Angeles. We hit the ball hard against them but we just didn’t find the holes. Today we really opened up, especially in that first inning.” We got a little bit of help, but we hit the ball hard.”
That’s because Franklin Pierce beat Port Angeles, 7-5, earlier in the day. The loss to Sammamish — which entered the district tournament after going 0-18 in 3A/2A KingCo — gives the Cardinals the No. 6 and final seed out of the district to the regional round of the 2A state tournament.
Franklin Pierce will face Selah at 1 p.m. Saturday at Davis High School.
Pitcher Erik Kozakowski allowed just four hits and no runs in seven innings. He also doubled and scored a run. Theo Tel had an RBI-single and Elizabeth Foxley drove in the Hawks’ third run with a sacrifice bunt in the third inning.
“I’ve so excited for these guys. So proud,” said Mount Rainier Lutheran coach Earl Davis. “I really don’t know what else to say. They are on a mission.”
The Hawks will face the quad-district 5/6/7/9 No. 5 seed at 10 a.m. Saturday at W.F. West High School.
Joyce Park of the Gig Harbor girls tennis team won the 4A Narrows singles title with a 6-0, 6-0 victory over Ali Topp of Olympia. North Thurston’s Ainsley Winterrowd won the 3A Narrows singles title with a 6-3, 6-0 win over Central Kitsap’s Mackenzie Hawkins.
Lincoln’s Miriam Cabrera and Lilly Le won the 3A doubles league doubles title.