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Stadium scores pair of late goals in 2-0 win over Peninsula

Stadium’s Justin Beardemphl discusses district win over Peninsula

Stadium’s Justin Beardemphl discusses district win over Peninsula
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Stadium’s Justin Beardemphl discusses district win over Peninsula

For the Stadium High School players in Thursday evening’s West Central III/Southwest bidistrict semifinal game on Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School against the Peninsula Seahawks, the Tigers must have felt a bit frustrated.

For most of the game, Stadium was the more effective offensive team, generating chance after chance, but the ball didn’t seem to want to find the back of the net.

The luck finally broke in the 75th minute, when senior Martin Shehata sent a low cross across the face of the goal to the waiting feet of senior Justin Beardemphl, who tapped it in with ease to give Stadium a 1-0 lead with just five minutes remaining on the clock.

“I just saw my team moving the ball really well like we had all game,” Beardemphl said. “(Shehata) and (Alex Coope), they were just pinging it, got down the sideline. I had to make that final stretch and it just came right across. Easy tap in. That was all my teammates.”

And five minutes later, with time close to expiring, Coope beat a defender down the sideline and passed it to Beardemphl, who tapped it in once again for the 2-0 win.

For Beardemphl, it’s unlikely he’ll see another easier pair of finishes in the playoffs in the coming weeks.

“Even though I put them in, that’s just all my team,” he said.

Maybe Shehata and Coope did most of the work on both goals, but for Stadium’s players, who describe themselves as a family on and off the field, the credit for the goal didn’t matter much.

“In league (play), we’ve had so many different goal scorers,” Shehata said. “It doesn’t matter who puts it in the back of the net. Today, it was Justin. It could be someone else in the next game. As long as the goal comes, it doesn’t matter who it’s from.”

It seemed like the goal may never come for the Tigers. Whether it was bad fortune, some missed chances or the stellar play of Peninsula keeper Yzahir Cornelio, the game remained scoreless until late. But Stadium kept pushing, feeling like the opening goal was inevitable at some point.

“You just feel like one is going to end up going in,” Shehata said. “We just kept working and we knew we’d put one in the back of the net. Luckily, Justin got one in the 75th. We stepped up and got another one.”

On the other end, Stadium kept Peninsula’s attack bottled up, including pacey striker Evan Janson, who has scored 21 goals for the Seahawks this season.

“We spent a lot of time defending,” said Peninsula coach Alec Moore. “We just had to react to them a little more than we would’ve liked to and we spent less time setting the tempo ourselves and playing our game. … Pretty much the whole game, our keeper and our back line was tasked with some really good players. With quality players like that, it only takes one or two breaks for them to punish you.”

Moore added that he would have liked to see a little more control of the ball in the midfield.

“It’s all about dominating the middle of the park,” Moore said. “If you’re able to set the tempo with passing in the middle, you’ll have way more chances in the attacking third.”

Both teams were already safely in the Class 3A state tournament prior to Thursday evening’s game. With the win, Stadium will play for the bidistrict title on Saturday at 2 p.m. at Mount Tahoma, against the winner of Gig Harbor and Wilson.

As for Stadium, the Class 3A Pierce County League champion, the Tigers are feeling good about their chances at state.

“I think our league, we’ve had a few other really good schools,” Shehata said. “It feels good to put soccer out there in Tacoma. We want to go as far as possible.”

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