Columbia High lost its shot at its first SWW District 4 Class 1A boys soccer championship Monday night with a 2-0 loss to Stevenson in a district semifinal match in Camas.
However, the Bruins (16-1) still can qualify for the state 1A tournament on Thursday by beating the Montesano Bulldogs in a winner-to-state district match in Camas.
Stevenson dealt Columbia its first loss of the season on the strength of first-half goals by Mark Kilpatrick and Jereth Robinson. The Bulldogs' goals came in the 13th and 18th minutes of play.
"Obviously we were quite disappointed," Bruins Coach Peter Knowles said Tuesday morning. "Having gone undefeated through the season, it was hard to take this one, at this time."
Knowles said a slow start on a warm day, and getting used to playing on the unfamiliar synthetic surface of Camas' Doc Harris Stadium played parts in the Bruins' defeat.
"We seemed to start the game a little off our game," he noted, "I don't know if it was the heat, the unfamiliar surface where the ball seems to bounce a little funny, and we seemed to have more than our fair share of misplayed and bobbled traps, or whether it was nerves and tentativeness of playing a playoff game, against Stevenson.
"Maybe it was all of those things, but Stevenson seemed ready to play from the start. It took us a while to get up to speed and that may have cost us the game."
The Bulldogs (12-5) took a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute on a goal by Kilpatrick that came off a bouncing ball in the middle of lots of traffic.
"A shot came in that (goalkeeper) Carlos Mendoza stopped but couldn't hang onto," Knowles said. "The ball seemed to hang up in the middle of lots of bodies, at least three of ours, and no one could clear it. Kilpatrick got a foot on it and put it away."
Five minutes later, Robinson tapped the ball into an empty net for a 2-0 Stevenson lead.
Robinson's goal, Knowles said, "came on a weird long ball, over the top, that Robinson and (defender) Chuy Ramos were running on to from about 40 yards away. Carlos (Mendoza) came out to challenge but the bounce was going to drop the ball just outside the penalty box, so Carlos couldn't use his hands. He came forward to clear it and all three of them met at about the 20-yard line. The ball bounced through and, although nobody collided, Robinson came out the other side with the ball and no one in front of him."
Later in the first half, Mendoza stopped a penalty kick by Kilpatrick that Knowles hoped would be the spark that ignited the Bruins' attack.
"We had lots of opportunities, with a few short-range shots from Mart¡n Mendoza and Cheno Barajas that seemed to go right to their keeper," Knowles said. "As the second half wore on we picked it up even more, with lots of support and opportunities from Shanti Gosman and Ramon Cortez,, but we just couldn't get the ball in the net."
In the final issue, it was a typical Columbia-Stevenson soccer match. Twice during the regular season the Bruins beat the Bulldogs in penalty kick shootouts. In both matches, they scored the first goal.
"A couple of times this season we've had the benefit of an early goal and forcing the other team to come at us to make something happen," Knowles said. "This time the tables were turned, and we just couldn't get it done."
At Columbia High 4, Montesano 0:
Midfielder Cheno Barajas had a hat trick in the second half and the SWW 1A League champions finished the regular season unbeaten with a 4-0 victory over the Bulldogs here last Thursday.
The Bruins (16-0) led 1-0 at halftime on a goal by forward Thomas Jeter but pulled away in the second half behind Barajas's three goals and outstanding ball control and defense.
Goalkeepers Sean Stocker and Carlos Mendoza combined with a strong effort by CHS's backline defenders to post the Bruins' ninth shutout and school single-season record 16th win.
Barajas' hat trick gave him XX goals for the season--tops on the team--and likely helped earn him Montesano coach Eric Stanfield's vote for player of the year.
"We kind of lost track of him during the game and you cannot do that with a player of that caliber," Stanfield said of Barajas in an interview with Aberdeen's The Daily World.
In its first season of competition at the Class 1A level, Columbia has proved to be an efficient offensive team but an even-better defensive force. In 16 regular-season matches, the Bruins surrendered eight goals on the way to winning CHS's first boys soccer championship.
"They're number one for a reason," Stanfield told a reporter.
The Bruins' play this season has not been a big surprise to Bruins Coach Peter Knowles, who led CHS teams into the state tournament in each of its last three seasons of 2A competition. He said he's seen the now seven-year-old program building toward this kind of success.
"I knew coming in we'd have a strong team, and much of our success would depend on how the other teams in the league stacked up, how well we'd be able to keep our team injury-free, and how we'd be able to fill a few missing spots from last year's graduating seniors," Knowles said. "I'd have to say that we've been successful in all areas."
At Columbia High 10, Tenino 0:
Cheno Barajas scored a hat trick, Trenton Morneault had two goals and Shanti Gosman had two assists as the Bruins stretched their winning streak to 15 matches May 1.
"We seemd to truly find our shooting against Tenino, scoring 10 good goals, each on a quality shot to a corner of the net," Bruins Coach Peter Knowles said.
The Bruins set the tone early when forward Mart¡n Mendoza scored on a header off an Edgar Ceballos assist at the 1:47 mark of the first half.
Barajas scored the next two and Miguel Lujano and Finn Anderson each added a goal to give CHS a 5-0 halftime lead.
Early in the second half, the Bruins got goals from Barajas (44th minute) and Morneault (46th and 48th minutes) and the rout was on.
"Coming off the Castle Rock game where we had trouble putting quality shots on goal, it was nice to see so many good shots on goal, and so many going in," Knowles said.