By being a step quicker all night, the Shadle Park defenders collected most of the loose soccer balls Wednesday night.
The Highlanders also collected the first District 8 3A title in recent memory with a 2-0 win over defending champion Mt. Spokane at Spokane Falls Community College.
“We’ve played the underdog all season,” second-year coach Donavon Hodgson said. “We’ll take it – it’s good for the program.”
The Highlanders (7-10) also will take six days off before opening regional play on Tuesday, also at SFCC, against the No. 4 seed from the Mid-Columbia Conference. Mt. Spokane will face University – a 6-0 winner over North Central earlier Wednesday – for the second and third seeds to regionals.
Midway through the first half, junior midfielder Peter Sokolis broke a scoreless tie with a strong header off a corner kick from Sean Malone.
“I thought it was going over my head,” said Sokolis, who stands 5-foot-8 but outleaped the Wildcats’ defenders and headed the ball strongly into the left corner of the net.
A minute later, Sokolis laid out a perfect pass to teammate Ryan Nick that almost resulted in a goal.
With 12 minutes left and Mt. Spokane (6-7) pushing more players upfield, the Highlanders counterattacked. After a poor clearance, Shadle senior forward Tucker McDonald found the ball while Mt. Spokane keeper Robert Powles was off his line.
“I could hear something behind me,” said McDonald, who chipped the ball over Powles for the 2-0 lead.
“They had a miscommunication,” Hodgson said. “Tucker showed great composure. That’s a tough shot … he stepped up in a big moment.”
University 6, North Central 0: Trevor Martin scored five goals and the Titans scored four times in a 2-minute span early in the second half to rout the Indians at SFCC.
The win gives U-Hi (5-8) a chance to earn a home spot for regionals if it can beat Mt. Spokane on Friday.
NC is off until Tuesday, when it faces the Mid-Columbia Conference champion.
Martin, a junior forward, scored in the opening and closing moments of the first half to give U-Hi a 2-0 lead at intermission. Two minutes in, his looping shot passed over the arms of NC goalkeeper Heber Martinez.