Union soccer reaches final four

Titans hold off Ferris 3-1

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

Published:

 
photoUnion forward Mitch Wheelon (17) heads ball against Ferris midfielder Matt Belles (20) during state soccer quarterfinal game Saturday.

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A match that started badly for the Union Titans boys soccer team turned out just fine.

Mitch Wheelon scored twice and and Luke Foster scored his first career goal as the Titans shook off an early deficit to defeat Ferris of Spokane 3-1 on Saturday in a Class 4A state quarterfinal game.

Union advances to the Class 4A boys soccer final four, which takes place next Friday and Saturday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. The Titans (15-2-4) will face Roosevelt in Friday's 8 p.m. semifinal.

Ferris scored in the game's third minute, but Union tied it 25 minutes later and dominated the second half to earn its first trip to the soccer final four.

The go-ahead goal was scored with under 17 minutes left. Collin Wong made a run up the left wing setting a ping-pong sequence in the goal mouth that ended with Wheelon finishing off a ball from Ashton Rimer.

Matt Beaulaurier put Ferris ahead in the third minute. Beaulaurier took advantage of some confusion in Union's defense, beat Union goalkeeper Pasha Hashemi to a free kick that was looped into the penalty area from 40 yards away, deflecting the ball past into the goal.

"After giving up that early goal, the fight and grit that the kids showed to fight there way out of that early hole, I couldn't be more proud of them," Union coach Kelcey Burris said.

Wheelon equalized in the 28th minute, drilling a 30-yard free kick from straight away that skipped along the turf and inside the right post.

From that point on, the Titans were the assertive team. And after halftime, that assertiveness turned into momentum that Ferris couldn't match.

Foster, a senior defender, put to rest any uncertainty about the outcome by scoring with his head as the clock ticked under five minutes. He converted from about 10 yards out off a Collin Wong cross.

The fact that Hashemi, the Union goalkeeper, finished with only one save reflects the control the Titans had for most of the match.

Union, which won a boys soccer state tournament match for the first time on Wednesday at Davis of Yakima, hopes to continue following the path Skyview took a year ago. In 2012 Skyview won a boys soccer state tournament match for the first time, then won three more to claim the Class 4A state title. Like that Storm team, these Titans did not win the Greater St. Helens League title.

"We've been knocking on the door for many years," Burris said. "I couldn't be more proud of all our kids, and of all the hard work and preparation they put in. Off to the next game we go."