Stadium’s Alex Coope discusses stunning goal, state win over O’Dea
Alex Coope has surely scored plenty of his goals in his soccer career. But the sophomore would be hard-pressed to find many better than the one he scored in Stadium’s 3-0 win over visiting O’Dea in the opening round of the Class 3A boys soccer tournament on Tuesday night at Stadium Bowl.
A cross from teammate Justin Beardemphl missed its intended target and found its way to Coope on the right side of the field who took it on a bounce, volleyed it across the goal and into the left corner of the goal in the 44th minute for the game’s opening score.
It was a moment of brilliance.
“That was beautiful,” said teammate Martin Shehata. “That was an incredible shot. It was kind of a weird ball, I didn’t think we could get anyone on it. Alex Coope just hit that so clean.”
First-year Stadium coach Jeremy Leffel was equally impressed.
“That’s the goal of the year — at least for us, and probably for a lot of teams,” Leffel said.
It’s the type of goal a coach might see a player pull off in training, and say, “Yeah, try that again.”
“But with him, he would do the same thing again,” Leffel said. “He’s a super dynamic player. … It’s not surprising because of the quality of his play. It was a pretty, pretty goal.”
It also turned out to be a pivotal goal in the game. Despite dominating chances and possession in the first half, Stadium had nothing to show for it at halftime, going into the locker room scoreless. While a goal felt inevitable for the Tigers at some point, it took some of the pressure off the game when Coope found the back of the net.
“We played well in the first half, kept possession and were dominating,” Coope said. “I thought we finished our chances and played well.”
The floodgates opened after that. In the 53rd minute, Braeden Pryor headed in a goal off a corner kick to give the Tigers a 2-0 lead and in stoppage time, just before the final whistle, Shehata added a third goal — the exclamation point for the Tigers.
“Our group is just peaking at the right time,” Leffel said. “We’ve had a good season, have battled through a middle that was tough. And right now, they’re just gelling. It’s not one guy. That’s what’s so fun about it. It’s contributions from every position and the bench. It’s just fun to watch.”
Stadium will host the winner of Squalicum and Lakeside, either Friday or Saturday.
Gig Harbor 3, Shorecrest 2: Elsewhere in 3A state tournament play, the Tides pulled off a thrilling-win at Roy Anderson Field on Tuesday night. Shorecrest opened the game with a goal in the 23rd minute, before Gig Harbor responded with a Nick Lavinder goal in the 31st minute, assisted by Jordan Dowd. Ben Lazar scored in the 65th minute off an assist from Brandon Alveraz to give Gig Harbor a 2-1 lead, but Shorecrest responded with a goal in the 80th minute to tie the game and force overtime.
Moments away from a penalty-kick shootout situation in the second overtime period, Miles Aronson dribbled down the left sideline, beating his defender and crossing the ball, finding Lavinder again, who headed the ball in for the game-winning goal.
Gig Harbor will face Bellevue on the road in the state quarterfinals next.
Bellevue 1, Peninsula 1 (Bellevue wins 4-3 in penalty kick shootout): Bellevue opened the scoring with a goal in the 62nd minute from junior Ryan Tobin, but the Seahawks quickly responded with a Kenneh Roberts goal in the 64th minute off a set piece from teammate Grayson Janson. After neither team scored in either of the two five-minute overtime periods, Bellevue advanced on the penalty kick shootout, emerging 4-3.
Federal Way 2, Gonzaga Prep 1: In Class 4A state tournament action, the Eagles came out on top against the visiting Bullpups. Federal Way scored first on a Jose Hernandez header in the 38th minute, taking a 1-0 lead into halftime, before Gonzaga Prep tied the game in the second half. Federal Way’s winner came from Alexis Alvarez in the 73rd minute.