Second place in the Wesco North was on the line and -- on top of that -- it was the final match between the two teams as league foes. Marysville Pilchuck drops down to 3A next season.
In the end, it was the Vikings who took firm control over second place with a 2-1 victory over the Tomahawks.
"We got out here late for warmup because we spent a lot of time in the locker room talking about what it means to be a good hard-working team and to know what it means to work for each other," Lake Stevens coach Kit Shanholtzer said. "We came into this with the right mindset. It was a really important match.
The Vikings jumped out to an early lead in the fifth minute when Tanner Sellars beat Marysville goalkeeper Ryan Spiva from deep. John Erickson assisted.
Lake Stevens held that lead for the next 50 minutes of the match until Marysville Pilchuck's Cesar Galvan scored on a free kick from just outside the penalty box. Galvan's goal was exactly what the Tomahawks had needed for more than half the game.
"We're resilient," Marysville Pilchuck coach Paul Bartley said. "I think they (the Tomahawks) have improved dramatically since the first game that we have played of the season. Every game we seem to improve a little bit more."
The goal seemed to fire up the Tomahawks and put the Vikings on their heels a bit.
"Before their goal, I felt like we were playing pretty well and we were calm and consistent and working the ball around," Shanholtzer said. "We had to overcome that emotion and work back to being calm and making good choices together."
The Vikings did overcome the emotion and scored in the 67th minute after landing a corner kick in front of Marysville Pilchuck's goal.
When the ball hit, both teams made a mad rush to it and somehow the Vikings' Erickson got it past M-P goalkeeper Ian Beegle, who took over in the net after Spiva suffered a first-half concussion. Taylor Aitken got the assist for what turned out to be game-winner.
It was hard for either coach to tell exactly what happened on the play.
"I have no clue what happened," Shanholtzer said. "I just saw the ball hit the back of the net."
"It was just rattling around and somebody put it away," Bartley said. "I couldn't tell you who scored it, either. That's why you don't want the ball to hit the ground on corners."
Bartley added there wasn't much that the Tomahawks could do to stop the ball after it hit the ground.
"Whoever kicks it in, kicks it in," he said.
It wasn't just the Vikings' side that felt the pregame emotions Tuesday. The Tomahawks also knew there was a lot on the line.
"The thing is (we knew) we aren't going to play that team ... for three more years because we are going down to 3A," Bartley said. "So, there was a lot of emotion. We knew it was for second place and we had to have the game -- and it was just a good game. It was two evenly matched teams."
At Marysville Pilchuck H.S.
Goals--Tanner Sellars (LS), Cesar Galvan (MP), John Erickson (LS). Assists--Erickson (LS), Taylor Aitken (LS). Goalkeepers--Lake Stevens: Brennan Countryman, James Tanner. Marysville Pilchuck: Ryan Spiva, Ian Beegle. Records--Lake Stevens 7-3-1 league, 8-3-1 overall. Marysville Pilchuck 5-5-1, 5-6-1.
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