4A bi-district soccer: Union boys blank South Kitsap

Titans advance to 4A state playoffs

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

It was just a matter of time.

Union dominated the first half of its Class 4A bi-district playoff boys soccer match Saturday afternoon at Kiggins Bowl, yet the Titans were held scoreless for those first 40 minutes.

It was just a matter of time before the Titans found the net.

It was just a matter of time.

Union is too talented to keep knocking on the door, to not make it past this round.

It was just a matter of time until the Titans reached the state tournament.

Time’s up.

Union scored in the second half, shut out South Kitsap 2-0, and is advancing to the state tournament for the first time in program history.

Mitch Wheelon and Toby Martin got the goals for the Titans, who will host a first-round matchup, most likely Tuesday.

“For the seniors, it was all about those last 40 minutes, to get to the next game, to get 80 more minutes,” said Keith Thorkildson, a senior who assisted on the second goal. “We’ve been playing our whole lives together. It’s big for us to make it to state so we can play more games together.”

The result helped ease some bad memories from this round -- one match away from the state round of 16.

“I’ve been on the losing end at this game two years in a row,” said Martin, also a senior. “This feels great to finally help establish the program in Washington.”

Union goalkeeper Collin Partee was credited with four saves, while most of the match was played in Union’s attacking zone.

In fact, the Titans missed several scoring opportunities in the first half.

“We all felt we controlled the first half, but the coaches still got on us a lot (at halftime),” Wheelon said.

Wheelon struck with a free kick from about 30 yards out in the 47th minute of the match. Tipped by the South Kitsap goalkeeper, the ball then richoched off the crossbar, and bounced off a couple of bodies in front of the goal before going into the net.

“I was just exctied to celebrate with my team,” Wheelon said. “We had been working for that for the whole game.”

A few minutes later, South Kitsap had its only true threat on net with a long free kick. Partee, though, timed his jump perfectly and tipped the ball over the crossbar, preserving the 1-0 advantage.

Martin got a sweet feed from Thorkildson in the 67th minute to make it 2-0. Thorkildson, on a free kick, got the ball just past a leaping defender. Martin got behind the defense, and scored.

“It was a great ball. I was able to settle it, then I got a toe on it to get it past the keeper,” Martin said.

Union coach Kelcey Burris said he thought it was appropriate that three different players got involved in the two goals because the Titans have never relied on any one player all season.

“We played 18 guys. They did everything we asked them to do, and we were able to come out on the right end of the result,” Burris said. “I couldn’t be more happy for them. I’m looking forward to hosting the first round of state.”