PUYALLUP — Just about the time the Mountain View Thunder seemed to be getting a handle on their task Friday afternoon, the chance for a state soccer championship slipped from their grasp.
A pair of handball fouls less than two minutes apart produced penalty-kick goals for Bainbridge, and the Spartans scored four times in the final 20 minutes to beat the Thunder 6-2 in the Class 3A semifinals at Sparks Stadium.
The result halted a nine-game winning streak that had carried Mountain View to the final four. The Thunder will face Eastmont of East Wenatchee for third place at 10 a.m. Saturday.
Bainbridge, which lost to Camas in the 2011 state final, will try for a better result against Mercer Island this year.
A surge in the first 20 minutes after halftime pulled Mountain View even at 2-2 in a match that Bainbridge controlled through the first 40 minutes.
But only 3:31 after a great shot from Isaac Strever pulled the Thunder even, the Spartans regained the lead by cashing in on a pair of handball foul calls inside the penalty area.
Sebastian Scales and Michael Crowley converted from the spot to give the Spartans a 4-2 lead and leave the Thunder flummoxed.
"It's just a shame it had to come down to two penalty kicks," Mountain View coach Jeff Brooks said. "We came out in the second half and played much better. It just didn't go our way."
Despite having little possession, the Thunder did strike once in the first half, tying the match briefly on a goal from Foster Langsdorf who cashed in on a free kick rebound in the 29th minute.
The Bainbridge lead was 2-1 at halftime, and Mountain View was fortunate to be within striking distance as Bainbridge missed on a half dozen good scoring chances.
"It took us a while to get into the game. We weren't connecting well," said Strever, a sophomore on Mountain View's youthful back line. "We had little communication. We had to fix that in the second half, which we did."
With the breeze at its back, Mountain View played the first 20 minutes of the second half like the team that won nine games in a row. The key, Brooks said, was settling down and playing their short passing, pressure marking style of soccer.
"Knocking the ball around, getting them under pressure, taking away their long ball," Brooks said. "We started to do that in the first 20 minutes (of the second half) and it resulted in a goal."
The goal was a beauty, with Strever dribbling past several Spartans and driving a 25-yard rocket into the net to even the score at 2-2.
"I was just in the moment," Strever said. "I got a ball from Marshall (Hartley) and I decided to dribble and I found an opening chance to shoot it and I took it."
Bainbridge's experience and speed finally pushed the Spartans past the Thunder. And Peter Fawley's two late counter-attack goals made sure Mountain View could not close the gap.
BAINBRIDGE 6, MOUNTAIN VIEW 2
Goals (assists) — Foster Langsdorf (Brandon Brooks) 29th minute; Isaac Strever (Marshall Hartley) 58th. Goalkeeper saves — Christian Asivido 7.
Goals (assists) — Will Economy (Michael Crowley), 21st minute; Devereaux Kesler (Sam Rice), 31st minute; Sebastian Scales (PK), 61st minute; Crowley (PK) 63rd minute; Peter Fawley (Scales), 70th minute; Fawley (unassisted), 73rd minute. Goalkeeper saves — Branson Jumpa 4.
Halftime — Bainbridge 2-1.