Thanks in good measure to its eighth shutout of the season last Thursday, Columbia High’s boys soccer team enters the start of the Southwest District’s Class 1A tournament tonight as the SWW 1A Trico Division’s No. 1 seed.
The Bruins closed out regular-season play with a 2-0 victory over King’s Way of Vancouver in Bruin Stadium, on Senior Night for Columbia’s class of seniors.
The victory earned Columbia (13-1 in Trico, 13-3 overall) a share of the Trico title, with Seton Catholic, which beat Columbia, 5-1, on April 30 in Vancouver, and La Center, 7-1, last Saturday.
Columbia claimed the top seed — and the Trico’s automatic state berth — based on a fewest goals-against in league play tiebreaker.
“We tied in overall record with our only losses coming against each, meaning we were tied head-to-head,” third-year Bruins Coach Christopher Cramer. “However, we only allowed 10 goals in league while Seton allowed 13. Defense ended up being the difference. Isn’t it always?”
CHS held a two-goal lead after its last away match against Seton, “which meant we just needed to win our final game without conceding any goals in order to maintain the No. 1 seed going into district,” Cramer said.
The Bruins will take on the Rochester Warriors (13-3), the Evergreen Division’s No. 1 seed, in a state seeding match tonight starting at 7 in Kalama’s Chinook Stadium. The winner will go to state as No. 1, the loser as No. 2. (All told, six Southwest teams will be competing for the district’s four available state berths.)
At Columbia 2, King’s Way 0: The Bruins blanked the Knights in a rematch of April 9 opponents. Columbia won the first meeting, 4-1.
On Senior Night, junior midfielder Gabriel Guzman and sophomore forward Luis Pascual both scored goals in the first half. Assists went to senior midfielder Tai Moses (Guzman) and junior forward Jose Gonzalez and freshman forward Ivan Cortes (Pascual).
“Though the score was close, the game really wasn’t,” Cramer said. “We knew our main priority was to not concede goals, so once we had a 2-0 lead, we played fairly conservatively, content to just pass the ball around and limit King’s Way’s touches on the ball.”
At Seton Catholic 5, Columbia 1: The score was tied 1-1 at halftime but the match got away from the Bruins early in the second half.
“We approached this game all wrong,” Cramer said. “As coach I take all the blame. We had everything to lose and Seton had everything to play for. They played with passion and desire, and we played with fear. I accept that I didn’t get the guys into the right frame of mind for this game.”
The Cougars scored first, taking a 1-0 lead on a simple corner kick on which the Bruins left one player completely unmarked.
Minutes later “a strange scrum in the box ended in the referee awarding Seton a penalty kick.” But instead of Seton taking a two-goal lead, CHS senior goalkeeper Juan Ramos held it at one “with a huge save versus Seton’s leading goal-scorer and league MVP, Erik Powell.”
Cramer said that stop picked the Bruins up, and they responded with a tying goal by Gabriel Guzman, off a Luis Pascual assist. “We had several opportunities to take the lead before the half as well,” he added, “but unfortunately time ran out before we could capitalize on the momentum.”
The match tipped toward Seton’s advantage in the early moments of the second half, after CHS senior defender Juan Mendoza came off because of a nagging foot injury.
Instantly, Cramer said, “you could see the team was rattled and disorganized. We really began playing with fear and in a flash, we were down 3-1.”
Columbia continued to battle for possession but couldn’t put a consistent attack together. Late in the match, Seton Catholic (13-2 overall) capitalized on a couple of Bruin breakdowns to tack on two more goals before the final whistle.