Score two goals.
Puyallup boys soccer had one plan entering Tuesday night’s game, and that was to find a way to put the ball in the back of the net twice against 4A SPSL South rival Curtis.
“I thought that we made adjustments at half, even though we were up,” Puyallup coach Matt White said. “We were trying to get the second goal, because in the last (match against them) we just never got the second goal.”
With a Puyallup defense having surrendered just five goals all season, and having played Curtis to a 1-1 draw last time out, the Vikings’ theme had been score a pair, savor a victory.
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And that’s exactly what junior forward Tyler Wood did, scoring twice in Puyallup’s 2-1 win over Curtis at Sparks Stadium. The win puts the Vikings (10-1-2, 7-0-2) in the driver’s seat for their fifth consecutive South league title.
“We were organized (defensively) tonight. That’s a great team,” White said. “That No. 7 (Alex Whiting) can do whatever he wants out there. But in the second half, I don’t think he had a shot on goal.”
Whiting was a nonfactor in the second half due to Puyallup defender Levi Woolley marking the Curtis standout.
Curtis (10-2-2, 7-1-2) suffered its first league loss and fell a game behind Puyallup with two to play.
“It’s tough. Getting over that hump has been tough,” Curtis coach Frank Hankel said of Puyallup’s recent success against his program. “Kind of that big gorilla on our back right now. It’s difficult.”
Puyallup’s attack was relentless right from the start, as the defending South champions had Curtis on its heels.
After three goal attempts were wiped away by the Curtis defense, Puyallup midfielder Brayan Torres worked his magic and help put his team on the board.
In the fifth minute, Torres stole the Curtis left back’s dribble before spinning around the defender and crossing it to the middle of the box.
Wood powered a header through two Curtis defenders, and Puyallup had a 1-0 lead.
“He (Torres) creates space on his own all the time. He just got open, made a beautiful ball, I waited back post until it (the ball) was centered and I headed the ball home,” Wood said.
Ten minutes into the second half, Puyallup was back in attack mode. After the Curtis defense batted away a Torres pass, Puyallup defender Sam Ebner flung a throw-in past all defenders and Curtis keeper Brady Kelly.
Wood was left open on the back end of the goal, and the forward one-timed a volley for his second goal (50th minute) and a Puyallup 2-0 lead.
“I know it was coming back post, so I waited and tapped it in,” Wood said. “It’s great to pull a win against a great team like that.”
Curtis wouldn’t go away as it forced Puyallup to play defensive in the final 15 minutes of the game.
After Josh Lee placed a perfect early cross to Zach Ecklund, the junior hit a top corner shot 15 yards out and Curtis cut into Puyallup’s lead, 2-1.
With one last play left in stoppage time, Lee nearly tied the game with a reverse bicycle kick off of midfielder Derek Ramage’s cross. The shot sailed just over the top post.
“(Puyallup’s) a good and they won the league the last four years, but our guys battled back,” Hankel said. “We had chance after chance after chance — it just didn’t fall our way tonight.”
Puyallup can wrap up the 4A SPSL South league title this week when it plays third-place Graham-Kapowsin (7-5-2, 5-4-1) on Thursday and city rival Rogers (6-3-4, 4-2-3) on Saturday. Curtis has two games left, starting with GK on Saturday.
Kevin Manning: 253-256-7042