Visiting West Valley of Yakima, seemingly cruising toward a third straight appearance in the State AA soccer championship match, left East Valley of Spokane in its wake.
The Rams scored early Saturday to beat EV 2-0 in the tournament quarterfinals at Mead Junior High.
State scoring leader Chad Barkes was left unguarded on a corner kick at the 8-minute mark and he flicked the cross from Tim Burke beyond Knight goalkeeper Robbie Atwood.
“It’s a set play,” said Ram coach John Schubert of Barkes’ 33rd goal of the year. “They go in and mark a position and the crosser chooses someone depending upon who’s open. No one marked Barkes.”
Twenty-one minutes later, Atwood left the net unguarded to challenge a WV attack. The ball ricocheted twice off Knight defenders and eventually back to Jason Koreski who got an an easy score.
WV did a good job of using the entire field for its passing game and controlled the first half of the match after EV had a couple early scoring tries.
Koreski, one of three to play on WV’s four state playoff teams, including the 1993 champion and last year’s second-place squad, ran the attack.
“He’s the guy who controls the midfield,” said Schubert of Koreski. “Good players are in the right place at the right time.”
EV coach Jim Spencer lamented the team’s inability to score and control the game.
“We had a numbers advantage on both goals,” said Spencer. “When the ball moved away nobody stayed with the guy and the ball came right back to him.”
He added that had the Knights scored early they would have had momentum and the outcome might have been different.
“I thought they were suspect on the back line,” Spencer said. “We had our chances early and didn’t capitalize. When we got down 2-0 it was tough to come back.”
He added that Ram fullback Burke was the player that most hurt EV.
The second half of the contest was played on more even terms, although the Knights didn’t seriously threaten.
Spencer said, they have had trouble finishing all year and were a one-goal team against strong competition.
West Valley (20-1 this year and 59-5-1 over the last three) advances to the state semifinals next weekend in Tacoma.
The Knights, making their fourth straight state appearance as well, ended their season at 13-5-2.