Agonizing end to Union’s soccer season

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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Plenty of scoring chances Wednesday night at McKenzie Stadium.

Just no scoring.

And for that, the Union Titans are playing the what-if game.

After 80 minutes of regulation and 10 minutes of overtime, Issaquah got the best of Union in penalty kicks (3-0) for a 1-0 victory in the opening round of the Class 4A state boys soccer playoffs.

“If you don’t finish chances, this is what happens,” Union coach Kelcey Burris said. “We had quality chances. What do you do?”

The Titans will have to settle for making it to state for the first time in the program’s history. Issaquah will move on to the quarterfinals.

Alex Shane found the net in the first round of PKs for Issaquah, then Issaquah goalkeeper Evan King saved a shot on goal from Union’s Tyler Shadix for all the momentum the Eagles would need.

“I was just trying to stay relaxed. I was singing a song in my head,” King said of that save. “He glanced to my left, and I knew he was going there. I decided to go for it, and hope, and I got lucky.”

Credit Maroon 5’s new single “Payphone.”

“It’s a good song,” King said. “It makes me calm.”

Drew Tacher and Paul Hegedus also connected for the Eagles during the penalty kicks, while the Titans missed their next two shots -- one ball going over the top and the other hitting the crossbar.

Match over.

“PKs can be cruel,” Burris said. “That’s just the way it goes.”

Union keeper Collin Partee matched King’s excellence all night during the 90 minutes of soccer. Issaquah had the advantage in the second half, aggressive on offense and attacking the Union net.

Partee was up to the challenge.

There was a difficult grab in traffic of a loose ball 14 minutes into the second half. A diving save four minutes later. Then a highlight of a save in the final minute of regulation. Issaquah had two more strong pushes in overtime, only to be denied by Partee again.

“I like the feeling of having the team on my back,” said Partee, a sophomore. “I like the pressure. Sadly, I couldn’t do it in the PKs.”

The Titans wish they never put their keeper in that position.

King’s only mistake of the match -- a bad pass -- resulted in a Union scoring opportunity in the first half.

Jess Thompson stole the ball then passed it to Daniel Cohen, and Cohen had an easy goal. However, Cohen was ruled offside.

Union had a lot of other chances, too.

Mitch Wheelon’s drive 16 minutes into the second half missed by about a foot, hitting the outside of the net.

King smothered a shot from Nathaniel Cheney 30 minutes into the second half. The Titans had another shot from about 10 yards out, in front of the net in overtime, but the ball sailed left of the mark.

The misses amounted to a frustrating loss. Yet, the post-match discussion also gave the team a chance to think of its accomplishments this season.

“I couldn’t be more proud of our kids as they continue to establish our program,” Burris said.

“It’s been a great team,” Partee said. “The guys are like family to me. I’m just happy to play with these guys. It’s been a great experience.”