The Foster Bulldogs brought a potent attack into their Class 2A first-round boys soccer state match Wednesday against Columbia River.
Ten times this season the Bulldogs have scored three goals or more, and Foster tallied 11 goals in its last two district playoff games to reach state.
But the Bulldogs found out Wednesday that Columbia River has a defense that is just as good as its offense.
The Rapids fended off some early challenges from Foster before River’s offense tallied three first-half goals en route to a 3-0 victory.
“Our backline I feel hasn’t been tested a ton this year, but this showcases how good they actually are,” River coach Matt Newman said. “I’m glad they got an opportunity to see some really good attackers because that will prepare them for the next game.”
Senior team captains Cole Benner and Hunter Cunningham spearheaded the River backline in front of goalkeeper Cameron Harris. Together, the Rapids (20-0) recorded their 15th shutout of the season.
“Obviously, this team was super good offensively, scoring I think 11 goals in their last two games,” Benner said. “That through-ball to their right side was deadly the entire game. And so from the start, we had to make that adjustment, read when they were going to play that and drop back and make sure to cover that.”
On offense, River brought its own pressure, but could not convert challenges into goals, thanks in part to standout play by Foster goalkeeper Mylo Vega Valencia.
But in the 19th minute, Alex Harris pushed the ball up the left side and crossed the ball in front of the goal, where JP Guzman headed it in for a 1-0 lead.
In the 33rd minute, Harris broke free on a breakaway to make it 2-0. Five minutes, Harris made it 3-0 on a free kick.
“It took us a little bit to get into the game, but that’s expected in the playoffs,” Newman said. “But we figured out how they were playing us defensively. Our attackers, they’re super dynamic, and it’s fun to watch them sometimes. I love to see the freedom they have when they do get those opportunities to attack.”
It looked good from the backline, too.
“It’s awesome when our offensive is clicking,” Benner said. “We don’t have to do as much work. It really all starts with the offense. Even defensively, having Alex Harris up there pressing and not letting play that through ball is just super helpful for us.”
Columbia River will host East Valley of Yakima next in the state quarterfinals, probably on Saturday.
Wednesday was a good test for the Rapids, but Cunningham said there will be bigger tests ahead. And it will take an entire team effort – offense and defense – to reach their goal of a state title.
“Really it just comes down to communication and trusting each other,” he said. “That’s going to be the difference. And the heart, especially on set pieces. Set pieces help win in … these future state games. So making sure we all have the heart to go for those set pieces, because that’s going to win us or lose us the game.”
COLUMBIA RIVER 3, FOSTER 0
Goalkeeper saves – Mylo Vega Valencia 6, Saul Barbosa 2.
Goals (assists) – JP Guzman (Alex Harris), Harris, Harris pk. Goalkeeper saves – Cameron Harris 3.
Halftime – River 3-0.