On a perfect night for soccer, the Ferris boys lived up to the moment.
In front of more than 300 fans on a warm Wednesday night, the host Saxons knocked off first-place Lewis and Clark 3-0 in a match that meant a lot to both teams – or could mean nothing at all, depending on what happens in Friday’s matches.
With one game left in the regular season, the Tigers (with a 7-1 record and 21 points) are still in the driver’s seat for the Greater Spokane League championship, which comes down to a showdown at Mt. Spokane (7-1, 21 points).
That’s OK with Ferris (7-1, 20 points), which came away with something more important: a shot at the District 8 4A tournament title and a return to midseason form after many injuries.
“We’re healthy again and playing like we did before the (spring) break,” said Ferris coach Robin Crain, whose team dominated the Tigers in a 1-0 first half, then pulled away in the second.
With a win Friday at Mead, the defending district champion Saxons would clinch a spot in the 4A title game Tuesday at Spokane Falls Community College. Also in the hunt is Central Valley (6-2, 19 points), which could reach the title match with a win over Gonzaga Prep combined with an LC loss to 3A Mt. Spokane.
If that sounds complicated, things were simple on Wednesday for the Saxons, who hammered away at LC with several promising several set pieces before breaking through in the 32nd minute.
That’s when a long Ferris throw-in was cleared out of danger – for about 2 seconds – as sophomore forward Eric Hollenbaugh collected the rebound from 20 yards out.
“I saw everybody in the box, so I kind of drifted to the top,” said Hollenbaugh, whose shot glanced the bottom of the crossbar on its way into the net.
“I just got lucky,” said Hollenbaugh, who gave the Saxons a 2-0 lead in the 63rd minute off a sharp counterattack.
“We had to have this,” said Conor Ourada, a Gonzaga-bound midfielder who was one of 12 Ferris seniors playing in their final home match.
“It feels great to play like this in front of our home crowd and put ourselves in position for district,” Ourada said.
Just in time for district, the Ferris boys soccer team is back in playoff form.