SHORELINE They took the long way, but the Marysville-Pilchuck soccer team is state-bound after a 23-year exodus from the tournament.
After falling out of first place and an automatic state berth late in the season, the Tomahawks defeated squads from Kamiak and Jackson to earn the Western Conferences third seed to state.
Senior keeper Erik Cruz earned shutouts in both games as M-P beat Kamiak 2-0 on May 6 and Jackson 1-0 at Shoreline Stadium May 8.
Sophomore forward John Crenshaw got a goal with five minutes until halftime to put M-P on the board against Kamiak. Midfielder Nick Burdett made it a 2-0 game as the senior captains kick bounced off of Knights keeper Skylar Waggoner, onto the goals sidebar and into the net.
The team played against Kamiak with the philosophy that the playoffs are a new season, said M-P coach Geoff Kittle.
Were taking one game at a time, he said after the home game at Lake Stevens High School. We can guarantee we can play until the end of the game, and we can guarantee we can play our best.
Despite spirited play on both sides, the Marysville-Jackson game went into halftime scoreless. While M-P had several opportunities at the Jackson goal, they broke the tie in the 51st minute when the Tomahawks swarmed the Jackson goal and won a battle of numbers. Burdett had the game-winning kick.
The score only increased Jacksons intensity, and Marysville found itself playing more defense as the game went on. But despite Jackson opportunities on both restarts and drives, the Tomahawk defense held and the team secured its first state trip in the players lifetimes.
Burdett credited the team dynamic for Marysvilles ability to emerge from the district bracket.
When we lost to Arlington, it wasnt what we wanted to do. But it was our goal to make it to state, and go far, he said, adding, Were just a great group of guys that like each other.
At the beginning of the season, Kittle said it was his goal to take the team all the way to the state tournament in his first year helming the boys soccer program. After defeating Jackson for the slot to state, he said that the goal evolved beyond state ambitions at some point in the regular season.
It was our first goal, he said. It was a big goal, but weve been talking about winning the whole thing.
It would take the Tomahawks four more wins to do just that.
For the state tournament bracket, visit the WIAA web site at www.wiaa.com/athletics/soccer/.
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