SUMNER, Wash. – East Valley hadn’t given up more than one goal in a match all season.
A stellar performance by goaltender Bridger Peres made sure that would be the case once again for the Knights.
Unfortunately, while East Valley’s defense was its usual solid self, the Knights’ offense was held in check.
Credit a determined Lynden squad for that as the Lions knocked off East Valley 1-0 in a physical State 2A boys soccer semifinal match at Sunset Chev Stadium on Friday.
Peres athletically made save after save, numerous times punching the ball up and over the crossbar on point-blank shots from Lynden.
Arturo Torres broke up the scoreless tie in the 58th minute, booting in a shot from 3 yards out after the ball ricocheted off a pair of East Valley defenders before spitting out directly in front of the goal.
“When you get 10 or 20 shots right in front of the net, sooner or later one’s bound to go in eventually and that’s what happened,” East Valley coach Jeff Paulus said. “We just couldn’t get the ball out of there and they made us pay for it.”
The loss snapped the Knights’ nine-game unbeaten streak, dropping the team to 17-3-1.
East Valley will play Hockinson for the third-place trophy today at noon.
This marks the third time in school history the Knights will play in a third-place match at state.
East Valley finished fourth in 1990 and 1992 in the 3A tournament.
“We still have an opportunity to have the best finish in East Valley history,” Paulus said. “This was a tough loss. It was a very physical game and it hurts to lose, but this team will bounce back tomorrow. I’ve never been more proud of a team.”
Adam Talley, East Valley’s gifted sophomore forward, entered the game having scored seven of the Knights’ 10 goals during the postseason and a team-high 18 goals overall.
The Lions committed early to slowing Talley down with double teams and physical play.
The strategy worked to perfection as Talley failed to generate a shot on goal.
His teammates failed to find much offensive success either, managing just six shots, with four on frame.
“That was without question the best defense we’ve seen all season,” Paulus said. “We just couldn’t get anything going on offense. They locked Adam down with double teams and we never were able to get anything behind them. (Lynden) was just a very disciplined, hard-working team on defense and we weren’t able to do much.”
Lynden (17-4-1), which will play Fife for the state title today, will attempt to become the fourth school from the Northwest League in as many years to win the 2A championship, looking to join Sehome (2008), Squalicum (2009) and Bellingham (2010).
All three previous state champions defeated Cheney in the finals.