Hobbled by injuries, Tommies overcome with ensemble goal

MARYSVILLE — Most teams struggling to stay afloat don't get shutouts.

But Marysville-Pilchuck, which has lost three starters to injuries so far this season, fought off a pesky Cascade team to garner a 1-0 Wesco North victory March 18.

"We're in survival mode right now," said Tomahawks manager Geoff Kittle. "But the nice thing was it took the whole team tonight to win, and to score that goal."

Usually a cliche, Kittle was quite literal when speaking about his team's ensemble goal in the 60th minute. An M-P counter-attack opportunity was delayed out of bounds by Cascade's defense. The ensuing throw-in was controlled by Brady Ballew, who crossed the ball to the right side, where it was crossed back once more before James Allen's attempt inside the area at a far post was tipped by Cascade's keeper to freshman Juan Mendoza, who slid in to score at the goal line.

"Juan did a great job coming into the middle and helping us maintain possession," Kittle said. "That is a lot of pressure to put on a freshman."

Earning the first shutout of the season for M-P (1-1) was junior keeper Kyle Bluhm, who had to earn it in the final 10 minutes with a pair of diving stops.

"I've got to say that my defense was really fantastic tonight," Bluhm said. "And that has a lot to do with Kier Torkorla's leadership on the back line."

Torkorla had the responsibility of moving a few inexperienced defenders around to fit the occasion, which he performed as well as could be asked for. M-P's defense halted just about any Cascade possession outside of the goal box in the first half, with the exception of one shot and one corner kick. Marysville's defense included Torkorla, Collin Carlson, Eduardo Olivera, Terrance Johnson and freshman Gabe Ramirez came in to help.

Meanwhile, the Tomahawks tried to mount their own surge offensively with four corner kicks in the first 10 minutes, but were unable to finish. Their best opportunity early on came in the 23rd minute from a set piece just inside the left side of the goal box. Ballew bent the free kick to the far post, which bested Seagulls keeper Tanner Jelinek, but midfielder Matt Overstreet headed the ball out of the goal just before it crossed the line.

"Brady did a great job of pressuring their defense, which really helped us keep on the ball," Kittle said.

What turned the tide for the Tommies was an ankle injury to Everett senior forward Damien Carney. He returned later in the game, but while he was out the M-P backline was able to take more chances and help the offense in the second half.

M-P outshot Everet 7-5.

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