Skill is definitely a required element in the game of soccer.
There’s another intangible, though, that can be equally important – good fortune. Or in a word, luck.
To suggest that the Ferris Saxons have gotten this far in the season purely because of luck would be grossly unfair. However, the Saxons know they’ve also had their share of good fortune.
“To get this far you have to be pretty good and pretty lucky,” Ferris boys coach Robin Crain explained. “We’re pretty good and I think we’ve been fairly lucky.”
The Saxons (12-6-1) will have to rely on every ounce of skill and good fortune Friday when they take on the No. 1-ranked Stadium Tigers (15-1) in the State 4A semifinals at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood near Tacoma.
Stadium is ranked No. 8 in the nation in the National Soccer Coaches Association rankings.
Ferris fell to Stadium 4-0 last year in an early non-league game.
Senior goalie Nick Stebbins has anchored the Saxons’ strong defense.
“If you work hard, luck works for you,” said Stebbins, who has recorded eight shutouts. We have a lot of raw talent. If we work hard, things seems to go our way.”
It will take one of the Saxons’ best defensive efforts to top Stadium.
“We obviously have to play very well on defense,” Crain said. “We’ve done that all year. We have a very good defense. They have some firepower. They’re very technically skilled. If we can counter attack on them and sneak a goal by them maybe two goals who knows what can happen.”
Senior forward Alec Cutter will be counted on to lead Ferris’ offensive attack. The Greater Spokane League-leading scorer has a team-high 23 goals.
It’s been a year of redemption for the Gonzaga University-bound Cutter. He led the Saxons in scoring as a sophomore, but was saddled with foot and ankle injuries last year.
“Coming back from last season, it was pretty disappointing after my sophomore season,” Cutter said. “I definitely wanted to redeem my junior season.”
Cutter has no doubt which team will be the underdog.
“We’ve been underdogs in almost every game we’ve played so far in the playoffs,” Cutter said, “so it’s not anything new for us. Hopefully they underestimate us. I’m hoping they look past us. I think that’s what’s happened the past couple of games.”
Ferris is making its first trip to the semifinals since 2001. Stadium is wading into unchartered waters. It’s the first time in 34 years Stadium has advanced to the semifinals.
Crain and Cutter hope that the Saxons play loose and Stadium plays tight.
“We only have three starting seniors so I know there are going to be some nerves,” Cutter said. “But I think we’re one of the hardest working teams in the state. We may not be the most talented, but we work hard. It’s going to be a tough game but I’m pretty confident.”
And what about luck?
“Luck definitely plays some part in any team.” Cutter said. “We’ve had our luck but we’ve also been unlucky in some situations. It tends to even out. Pasco was a really good team. We were fortunate with them missing a PK (penalty kick). But we were resilient. It was tough to win in front of all their fans (at Edgar Brown Stadium). So there was some luck in there. But I definitely think we deserve to be where we are right now.”