The Seton Catholic boys soccer team found itself in an unfamiliar place on Tuesday — behind.
“We thought that we would score first because in the past (against King’s Way Christian) we scored first, and they would kind of break down,” Seton junior Eli Wall said. “We were hoping to get into their heads a little bit. That was our plan. So them scoring first definitely crossed us up a little bit.”
Wall got Seton even with a goal in the first half, then Sam Soto punched home a free kick in the 72nd minute, sending the Cougars to a 2-1 win over King’s Way in a 1A district semifinal Tuesday at Seton Catholic.
Tuesday’s win clinched a state berth for Seton Catholic, which will play Montesano in the district title match in Tenino.
Seton swept its Trico League rivals in league play on its way to the league title. The Cougars won 2-1 and 1-0.
But Tuesday’s match started differently when Seton goalkeeper Zach Catherall could not corral the ball in goal and Ryan Tyler punched in the rebound in the 15th minute for King’s Way.
Seton Catholic countered quickly, with Wall scoring in the 25th minute to tie the match.
The Cougars kept the pressure on the rest of the first half, but went into halftime tied 1-1.
The Knights brought pressure in the second half and nearly took the lead a couple of times, but were turned away by a shot wide on an open net and a couple of stellar saves by Catherall.
The Cougars brought an attack in the final 10 minutes that produced a free kick from just outside the penalty box. Soto punched it in beyond the reach of a diving stop by King’s Way goalkeeper Jasper Armstrong.
“Right there, that’s my spot,” Soto said. “I knew where I go, and I put it where I put it. I knew the keeper wasn’t going to get to it. That’s all there is to it.”
Seton Catholic will play for a third consecutive district title on Saturday, despite turning over a large part of its roster from last season.
“I think our chemistry is really important this year,” Wall said. “With all the new players coming in, we were able to come together and build off our success early in the year. And that’s really important and why we were able to beat these guys.”
King’s Way is also a young and talented squad, and the Knights will get a second chance to clinch a state berth in a loser-out match Thursday against Elma.
But Seton Catholic can already start making plays for state.
“I’m looking forward to state,” Soto said. “I think it will be good for us. I think we’re going to go far and do good.”
SETON CATHOLIC 2, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN 1
King’s Way Christian
Goal — Ryan Tyler. Goalkeeper saves — Jasper Armstrong 6.
Goals Iassists) — Eli Wall (Sam Soto); Soto, free kick. Goalkeeper saves — Zach Catherall 5.
Halftime — Tied 1-1.