Nelson Zepeda was celebrating Fort Vancouver clinching a spot in the 2A boys soccer state tournament when some Fort students asked him what happens next.
“I don’t know,” the Trappers’ team captain said. “We’ve never done this before.”
What happens next is the WIAA seeding committee will announce state matchups on Sunday after the Trappers’ beat Ridgefield 2-0 on Saturday to clinch the school’s first berth in the boys soccer state tournament since 1988.
“Honestly, it’s something like a dream come true,” Zepeda said. “We’ve worked so hard. At first, our first goal was to make districts, and after that, we just wanted to dream big. And it’s amazing that we finally got here.”
The Trappers achieved their goal of a home playoff match with a win over Hudson’s Bay on May 5. But a 2-0 loss to W.F. West meant Fort needed to win two loser-out games to reach state.
“I have four club players on this team,” Fort coach Juan Mendoza said. “You could tell all over that their first touch was off. They just couldn’t move the ball (against W.F. West), because some of them haven’t experienced the win-or-go-home mentality.”
Mendoza said the playoff win Thursday against Woodland gave the Trappers a boost of confidence that they took into Saturday’s match.
“Ridgefield beat us once, and we beat them once,” Mendoza said. “And the kids were like ‘we have to get them.’ And they had that confidence, and I think that’s the biggest thing sometimes when you come into a program that hasn’t been very competitive.”
The Trappers got another boost of confidence when Roberto Revuelta headed in a goal in the 19th minute to give them an early 1-0 lead.
“We’ve had trouble making that first goal in the first half,” Zepeda said. “So getting the early lead meant a lot to us. It was just a lot of energy. We came out with it and stuck with it to the end.”
It also allowed the Trappers to play to their strength, playing good defense. Saturday’s win was Fort’s ninth shutout of the season.
Zepeda credited the play of defenders Michel Diaz Ramirez, Abdoulie Juwara, Said Cervantes and Edgar Sanchez Lopez.
“Our defensive line has held it down, being disciplined and knowing their roles,” Zepeda said. “They really kept us in the game. It’s not all offense. It’s really our defense as well.”
When Morlai Sesay punched in another goal in the 68th minute, the Trappers were on their way to state.
“I told the kids that they’re continuing to give me more work,” Mendoza said. “It’s been fun, and now we’re just setting the standard for the rest of our season and the rest of the year to come at Fort.”