The Mountain View boys soccer team has played in enough postseason games in recent memory to know the first 10 minutes can be a make-or-break sequence.
So much so, that Thunder head coach Dustin Johnson writes a related message on a whiteboard during pregame meetings with the team. Those opening 10 minutes are “everything in a postseason game.”
Not long after the start of Saturday’s Class 3A bi-district game against Stadium of Tacoma, the Thunder gave up an early goal and were put in an uncomfortable position, one they were unable to come back from in a 3-0 loss.
Stadium (10-2-4), which earned a 3A state tournament berth with the win, scored in the fifth minute on a Nico Coope goal. The Tigers added two more in the second half to seal the win at McKenzie Stadium.
“We had the one mishap, which is hard because it changes the whole dynamics of the game,” Johnson said. “Because now you’re chasing for that extra goal or that other goal, and they can kind of sit back like they did and absorb it.”
Much like the first half, the opening minutes of the second included a couple deciding moments. The Thunder had an unimpeded shot on goal from close range in the 46th minute, but the shot found Tigers goalkeeper Sam Walter for the save.
Just four minutes later, Stadium’s Owen Bliskis scored on a through ball, before the Tigers volleyed in a late goal for an exclamation point.
Mountain View (8-7-1), the 3A Greater St. Helens League champion, now has a tougher road to the state tournament. It will face Central Kitsap on Tuesday in a loser-out game. The winner of that game gets two chances at advancing in winner-to-state games.
The Thunder have been in this position before. In 2019, they lost a 3A bi-district quarterfinal game to Peninsula by ceding the winning goal with seconds remaining, but bounced back to win their next two, earn a trip to the final 16, and ultimately, advance to the final four.
“All season, it’s always about the next one,” Johnson said. “This one, we learn from it and we move on. We’ve been doing that all year and it’s same thing in postseason.”