A pair of second-half goals carried Kentridge over Graham-Kapowsin in the first round of the district tournament, as the Chargers picked up the 2-0 win Tuesday evening at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium.
“These guys are a fairly young team, so just to make the playoffs is good — and to advance is a blessing,” Kentridge head coach Glenn Walrond said. “We didn’t play all that well and had to grind today, but we pulled out the win.”
A back-and-forth first half saw near misses for both teams, as the match reached halftime in a scoreless tie. That changed shortly after the break, as the Chargers broke through in the 42nd minute to take a 1-0 lead. Junior midfielder Saidi Mwenyeheri received a throw-in from Thomas Spratt right in front of the goal, heading it into the right side of the net.
“I just knew I had to work hard to support my team,” Mwenyeheri said. “Getting that goal was a big deal to us: It motivated us and helped us know that we can play with the big boys.”
Graham-Kapowsin came close to tying it midway through the second period when a close-range shot missed right. Kentridge effectively put it away in the 76th minute when Mwenyeheri passed to Jordan Christie for the Chargers’ second goal of the night.
“Today we played a bigger, faster and stronger team,” Graham-Kapowsin head coach Lucas Baker said. “Even though we moved the ball real well and had our chances, we just came on the wrong side of the break on the scoreboard. But it’s been a real good journey for all of us. This was the first time this program has ever made it to the playoffs, and some of these seniors have come from a two-win season all the way to having the best record in school history.”
Graham-Kapowsin had one final chance to break up the shutout in the closing minutes, but a one-on-one shot from the top of the box sailed just over the crossbar. The Eagles finish the 2016 season with an 8-7-2 record.
Kentridge improves to 9-5-2 and advances to Thursday’s second round, when the Chargers will meet Gig Harbor at Stadium High School at 7:30 p.m. The winner of that match advances to the 4A state tournament.
“It’s going to be a tough game,” Walrond said of the matchup. “The thing we need to do is be poised and work hard and see what happens.”
“We know we’re good enough to compete and get to the finals, but in order to do that we have to work hard and play as a team,” Mwenyeheri said.
Mount Rainier 1, Stadium 0: Mount Rainier scored midway through the first half and held off Stadium the rest of the way to clinch a 1-0 win and advance to the second round of the district tournament.
“It was kind of back and forth,” Mount Rainier head coach Steve Mohn said. “We were lucky enough to put the ball in the back of the net and hold onto the shutout. The big bright spot for us was we defended all right tonight.”
Briskans Shibale scored the lone goal of the night in the 23rd minute. The Mount Rainier junior forward took a pass from Dennis Barahona on the left side, made a move around the goalkeeper and sent the ball in from eight yards out.
Stadium threatened numerous times throughout the second half, but the Tigers could not find the back of the net against the Rams defense. Stadium ends its season with a 5-6-5 record, while Mount Rainier improves to 9-6-2 and will visit Curtis in a second-round match Thursday at 6 p.m. with a chance to earn a spot in the state tournament.
“I’ve seen Curtis play, and they’ve got a good team,” Mohn said. “It’s going to be a tough game, but we’ll go back tomorrow and prepare for that one and come out with our best on Thursday.”