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Mustangs 1, Crusaders 0

Trout Lake avenges late-season loss to earn state playoff berth

Trout Lake and Riverside Christian met three times during the regular 2003 Greater Columbia B League boys high school soccer season.

Trout Lake lost two of the three by a combined score of 2-0.

The one match it won was decided by penalty kicks, after the two teams had battled through 80 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtime periods to a 1-1 deadlock.

The two teams' most recent meeting, on Oct. 28, helped determine the winner of the GCB.

Riverside's Crusaders got the better of the Mustangs that day, winning, 1-0, on their opponents' home field and ending Trout Lake's three-year run as league champion.

So, when the two rivals met for a fourth time this season, last Friday in Trout Lake, the Mustangs had payback on their minds, as well as thoughts of qualifying for their fourth consecutive mixed Class 1A/B regional tournament.

From the opening kick of the loser-out District 5 playoff to the final whistle, the Mustangs proved to be the more aggressive team.

Trout Lake dominated Riverside end to end with a relentless attack that put constant pressure on its opponent's goal.

On a few instances, during Trout Lake corner kicks, Riverside's goalie came charging out of the net and launched himself into the scrums in front of his goal to break up scoring opportunities.

But even such defiant acts of intimidation failed to deter the Mustangs from the goal -- and their goal.

With less than a minute remaining in the 40-minute first half, Riverside's keeper tackled Trout Lake senior striker Mike Hansen inside the penalty box. The lead official awarded Hansen a penalty kick, which he dutifully put into the back of the net for a 1-0 Mustangs lead.

In the second half, Trout Lake backed that slim lead with a stalwart defensive effort that nullified virtually every Riverside scoring opportunity before it became a serious threat.

In turn, the Mustangs continued to apply pressure on the Riverside goal.

And though they didn't score after the break (Hansen had a goal negated by an offsides call), the Mustangs forced the Crusaders to expend energy on defense and maintaining the status quo, rather than on gathering their forces for an equalizing counter-offensive.

As often as not since resuming boys soccer in 1999 (after six years of not fielding a team), Trout Lake has won the matches it wasn't -- by the book -- supposed to win.

What has gone unnoticed, however, is that, over the last five season, Trout Lake's has emerged as one of the premier programs in the 1A/B ranks (58 regular season wins the last four seasons). That, despite three coaching changes in that brief period of time.

However, the Mustangs (12-3) have yet to reach their ultimate goal of playing for the 1A/B state championship. Two years ago they came within one victory of reaching of the final four, losing to Northwest Christian, 3-0, in the east regional final.

So, it's fitting that Trout Lake returns this Friday to the field at Mead High School, where it experienced its finest moment in school soccer history, against an opponent (Valley Christian of Spokane) it defeated, 5-0, during the regular season.

The winner of that match will meet either Northwest Christian or Moses Lake Christian on Saturday for a state semifinal berth in Auburn on Friday, Nov. 21.

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