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Trout Lake Alive And Kicking

Mustangs seek to slay Dragons two years in a row

Most of the usual suspects will be in the lineup Friday when the state Class 1A/B East Regional boys soccer tournament kicks off at Pasco High School.

In the second part of the regional double-header, Trout Lake and St. George's of Spokane will match up for the second time this season, and for the second year in a row in the regional semifinals.

Their match starts at 2 p.m. in Edgar Brown Stadium, following the conclusion of the Northwest Christian-Day Star Christian semifinal.

The Mustangs and the Dragons last met on Sept. 20 in Sunnyside and played to a 2-2 draw. Last November, Trout Lake ousted then-defending state champion St. George's, 4-2, to advance to the East Regional final.

Mustangs Coach Doug Dearden is looking for another battle with St. George's on Friday.

"It should be a good one," he said. "I just hope we can play up to the level I know we're capable of playing at."

Trout Lake (14-3-2) already has matched the school record for most wins in a season, set last year. A victory over St. George's will establish a new standard.

"St. George's is a real physical team. That's something we're going to have to learn to deal with because we're not real physical," Dearden noted.

But the Mustangs are more formidable on the front line now than they were the last time they played the Dragons.

Late in the season, Dearden moved midfielders Andy Dick and Mike Hansen forward to striker positions to take advantage of their size and speed, and boost Trout Lake's scoring potential.

Dick, a senior, has one hat trick to his credit this season, while Hansen, a junior, has netted a team-leading 18 goals in 19 matches.

Dearden also is hopeful sophomore Mark Poland will be recovered from a foot injury and able to play. His presence would bring great energy to the Mustangs' offense.

"The one thing that's going to help us (offensively) is making that extra pass to players in scoring position, because St. George's doesn't allow a lot of breakaways," he said. "If you're lucky enough to get one, though, they'll tackle you before you can get a decent shot off."

Trout Lake, likewise, is going to have to step up its defensive game to keep St. George's in check.

"St. George's likes to play crosses from the strong side to the weak side in the midfield area to create scoring opportunities," Dearden said. "Because of that, we'll be marking their strikers closely."

If it wins Friday, Trout Lake will play the winner of the Northwest Christian-Day Star Christian match in Saturday's regional championship, which starts at 10 a.m.

The Mustangs captured the Greater Columbia B League's No. 1 berth to regionals by blanking visiting Day Star Christian, 2-0, last Saturday in a match to determine seeding for regionals.

"That was our first shutout of the year," Dearden noted. "It couldn't have come at a better time."

The first 60 minutes of the match were scoreless, as both teams failed to capitalize on good scoring opportunities.

Hansen broke the 0-0 deadlock in the 60th minute with his 17th goal of the season. Sophomore Kris Huffsmith got the assist.

Ten minutes later, Hansen scored again, this time off a feed from Dick.

In three regular-season meetings, Hansen did not score against Day Star.

"They marked Andy closely because he had a hat trick on them last time, and sort of forgot about Mike," their coach said.

For the match, Hansen attempted four shots on goal. As a team, the Mustangs launched 16 shots compared to six by Day Star. Senior goalie Marcus VanLaar recorded saves on four of those attempts.

Corner kicks also favored Trout Lake, which finished with a 6-1 advantage.

"We were knocking on the door the whole game," Dearden said.

Trout Lake nearly lost its shutout in the first half, however, when a Day Star player beat a Trout Lake defender on the weak side for a clear view of the goal.

"The goal was wide open because Marcus (VanLaar) fell down trying to get back into position," Dearden noted. "But the Day Star player slipped and didn't get good foot on the shot. We really dodged a bullet there when it sailed over the crossbar."

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