Eastlake’s second consecutive boys State AAA soccer title came with conflicting emotions.
The joy of completing a 17-0 season was tempered by two factors: how it came about and who would never know about it.
The Wolves’ lone goal in their 1-0 championship-game win over Ferris occurred when Ferris junior defender Erick Blatt accidentally knocked the ball past goalkeeper Tommy Servine and into the net.
Ferris (19-2) was unable to respond to the score, which came 55 minutes and 20 seconds into the 80-minute match.
“It was kind of ironic that (the win) came on an own-goal,” said Eastlake senior Mike Casale, who was attempting a pass to Chris Farnsworth when the ball hit Blatt.
Moments after recalling the play with reporters on the Selah High School field, Casale and coach Jon Matsushita began crying and hugging, overcome by an emotional week. Eastlake student Joe Bolger died last week from injuries incurred while boxing.
“We’ll miss this class (of seniors), as we miss Joe,” Matsushita said.
Heavy rain fell 10 minutes before the midafternoon match. The weather cleared for the first half, but drizzle returned after halftime. Matsushita and Ferris coach Robin Crain said rain wasn’t a big factor.
The Saxons had a solid defensive plan for Eastlake, ranked third nationally in the U.S. Soccer Coaches Association poll. But the effects of Friday’s late-night match with Bellarmine Prep, which extended to a shootout after two overtimes, caught up to Ferris.
“It seemed like we controlled the tempo in the first half, but then in the second half we didn’t have our legs under us,” Crain said.
Ferris blanked senior midfielder Farnsworth, who accounted for 18 goals and nine assists before the final four.
Yet Eastlake had most of the best scoring chances.
“I feel a little bad that the game couldn’t end on a goal we had finished … but we created our opportunities,” Matsushita said.
Servine had three solid saves to keep the match close, but he couldn’t match his semifinal heroics. Servine scored twice after Crain pulled him from goal late in Friday’s match.
Crain tried the trick again, with 14 minutes left, but the Wolves clamped down.
“Most of us have been here,” said Casale, referring to last year’s 2-1 championship victory over Mead. “We just had to remind everyone to treat it like another game.”
North Thurston defeated Bellarmine Prep 2-1 in two overtimes in the match for third and fourth places.