Wednesday marked the halfway point of the 3A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer season, and five games in, Evergreen coach Keenan Burris likes what he sees.
Not to say the Plainsmen wouldn’t love to be undefeated. Instead, a one-loss mark in league play to Mountain View is all that separates Evergreen from the league’s top spot in a tightly contested 3A GSHL.
He liked what he saw, too, in the final 40 minutes of Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Hudson’s Bay at McKenzie Stadium.
Senior Killian Burris recorded a hat trick and Levan Zhividze had three of the team’s four assists, while the defense shut out the Eagles in the second half.
That first half, though? Coach Burris wasn’t happy. In fact, just minutes into the match is when the longtime Plainsmen coach knew it’d be a long one if something didn’t change. Poor warm-ups were mostly to blame, he said, leading to what he described as a “sloppy” first half by Evergreen (5-4-2, 4-1 3A GSHL).
Bay (4-7, 1-4) led 2-1 at halftime on goals off free kicks by Jair Nunez, and it might’ve been 3-1 had Evergreen keeper Blaine Mckee not saved a penalty kick by Nunez in the 38th minute, diving to his right for one of his five saves.
“We let the kids learn a lesson,” Coach Burris said before later adding. “It was the story of our situation.”
After that, it was all Evergreen. The veteran leadership took over, led by four-year starters Killian Burris and Zhividze as well as three-year midfielder Eustacio Francisco to take the lead for good by the second half’s halfway mark.
Two of Evergreen’s three second-half goals came from Killian Burris, an Evergreen State College committ, over a four-minute span. The latter and his third of the game came in the 59th minute, sliding a shot past Bay keeper Colin Marshall in the lower-right corner, to put Evergreen up 3-2. Nathan Cojocaru wrapped up the scoring eight minutes later.
The hat trick was Killian Burris’ first of 2017, and noted in order to turn things around began with guys like him setting an example.
“You can’t ask somebody to turn it around unless you do it yourself,” he said. “… we did a whole 180.”
The four goals is a single-game season high for Evergreen. After hosting Fort Vancouver on Friday, Evergreen’s rematch with rematch with league-leading Mountain View at 7 p.m. Tuesday at McKenzie Stadium in what could decide the 3A GSHL title. The Thunder won, 3-2, on April 11.