BATTLE GROUND — It was painful. It was frustrating. Season-ending losses will do that to a team.
Still, Hockinson senior soccer standout Emmanuel Gil emerged from the locker room at Battle Ground’s District Stadium knowing exactly what to say.
“We’re champions, even though we lost tonight,” he said.
The Hawks, with two seniors on the roster, won a co-title in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League and made it to the state soccer playoffs for the second time in program history.
Unfortunately for them, they ran into a squad that was equally hungry to make its own school history.
Isaac Swenson scored two goals, leading Sedro-Woolley to a 2-0 victory over Hockinson in the first round of the Class 2A boys soccer tournament Wednesday night.
“After we won our game just to make it to state, we celebrated like we won the whole thing,” Swenson said.
This is Sedro-Wooley’s first trip to state.
“Now we’re getting into form and seeing how far we can go from here,” Swenson said.
The Cubs got on the board when Swenson just took a gamble on a high-arcing shot from about 30 yards out. The ball slipped through the outstretched fingers of the Hockinson keeper and found the net midway through the first half.
“I was lucky,” Swenson said.
He was fortunate, as well, with his second goal, although it looked, as the soccer experts say, like a thing of beauty.
He settled a free kick from teammate Obed Camacho about 20 yards from the net. Then, with his back toward the net, Swenson kicked the ball over his shoulder and placed it perfectly on the upper left part of the goal. Casey Turner, in net for the Hawks, had no chance on that shot.
“I was just hoping for something,” Swenson said. “I was kind of surprised, but I was really happy.”
Both teams missed scoring chances the first 10 to 15 minutes of the match. Sedro-Woolley, though, controlled much of the rest of the match.
Hockinson’s Mitchell Pinney had a strong shot from about 20 yards out early in the first half, but it was stopped by Sedro-Woolley keeper Michael Moser.
With about 13 minutes remaining, Gill took a free kick from 30 yards out that was tipped over the net. The ensuing corner kick led to a header that sailed over the goal.
Hockinson coach Ron Sparks gave a lot of credit to the Cubs.
“They traveled a long way, and they played their tails off,” Sparks said. “Tonight just wasn’t our night.”
The loss cannot take away the successful campaign, he added.
“I’m so proud of my guys. They had a heckuva season,” he said, noting the leadership from Gil and fellow senior Shawn Marion.
“They have been outstanding senior leaders. The team chemistry was off the charts. They’re a team in every sense of the word,” Sparks said. “That sums it up.”
The future looks strong, but the Hawks will miss Gil and Marion.
“It was a blast to play with my best friend,” Gil said, referring to Marion. “And everyone. Even the kids on the JV made a huge difference for us all year. I love Hockinson.”