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District 4A soccer playoff berths go down to wire

With two games left in the regular season, the Greater Spokane League 4A playoff race resembles a one-round game of musical chairs.

Only first-place Mead (6-1) is guaranteed a playoff berth, and the Panthers can wrap up first place with a win today over last-place Rogers (0-10). Second-place Central Valley (5-2) likely needs another win to reach the postseason, while the three-way logjam involving Ferris, Lewis and Clark and Gonzaga Prep – all 4-3 – likely won’t be broken up until the end of the regular season on Friday.

Four of those five teams will reach the postseason, which raises the stakes for all. G-Prep has already lost to Mead and CV, so it probably needs to win at Ferris today to stay in contention. A loss would probably leave the Bullpups rooting for LC to beat Ferris in the finale on Friday, since G-Prep owns the tiebreaker over the Tigers thanks to an earlier 2-1 win.

“Ferris is always a solid team and well-coached, plus it’s difficult to play on their field,” G-Prep coach Matt Kinder said. “So we need to focus on playing within our system, limiting mistakes and take advantage of any opportunities presented to us.”

Kinder said the Bullpups have done a good job possessing the ball.

“But we’ve had some difficulty finding the back of the net,” he said.

Defending champion Ferris has won three straight GSL matches after a 1-3 start, but the Saxons need at least one more win to gain the playoffs.

“All three teams are pretty equal,” Saxons coach Robin Crain said. “You can pretty much flip a coin.”

The Saxons struggled early because of poor practice conditions and a lot of ill players, Crain added. “But everyone’s on the same page right now,” he said, “especially on defense.”

The Saxons have given up just one goal in those three matches.

District action begins next week.

GSL corner kicks

The 3A race is clear-cut, at least as far as who’s in the playoffs. That would be University and Mt. Spokane (both 4-3) and Shadle Park (4-4).

Then it gets complicated. The second- and third-place teams play an elimination game, with the winner playing the top seed for seeding to regionals. U-Hi owns wins over both, so needs only one win in its last two games against North Central and G-Prep to take the top spot.

If the Titans lose both, then the winner of today’s Mt. Spokane-Shadle match could vault to first place. Otherwise, they’ll meet again on Monday, with the loser eliminated.

GNL corner kicks

Facing first-place Cheney (13-0 entering this week) last Thursday, Medical Lake (1-8) decided to take defense to an extreme.

Employing ultraconservative tactics that included putting all 11 players on their own side of the field, the Cardinals took the Blackhawks to the limit before falling 2-0.

Medical Lake used five defenders across the back line, with five defensive midfielders in front of them, only challenging the Blackhawks when they pushed the ball 10 or 15 yards past midfield.

Which was all the time. “They didn’t have a counterattack,” said Cheney coach Mark Kiver, whose team beat the Cardinals 8-0 in their first meeting. “They gave up all that, but it made it very difficult on us.”