LAKE STEVENS — Cascade High’s boys soccer team was four minutes away from seeing its season come to an end.
But Samuel Agyei and the Bruins maintained their cool, and Cascade is moving on.
Agyei scored on a free kick late in regulation to tie it, then Cascade kept its nerve during an extended penalty-kick shootout, defeating the Lake Stevens Vikings 3-2 in a thrilling 4A District 1 tournament loser-out game Saturday afternoon at Lake Stevens High School.
“I can’t even put into words how exciting this is,” Cascade coach Sam Croft said. “These guys are so great. And (the Vikings) were great, too. What did we go to, the ninth PK? That was way too fun.”
Agyei scored both goals in regulation for Cascade, then the Bruins converted eight of nine attempts to win a tense shootout 8-7. Cascade (9-6-3), the No. 3 seed from the Wesco South, advanced to face Wesco 4A South No. 1 Kamiak for a berth to state. That game is Tuesday night at Kamiak.
“This feels wonderful,” Agyei said. “These guys they’ve worked hard, we’ve all worked hard. I got a little nervous, but we did it. It’s wonderful.”
Max Sands and Zach Bush scored in regulation for Lake Stevens, the No. 2 seed from the Wesco 4A North, which finished its season 8-6-3.
Cascade was mere moments away from being the team lamenting its season ending. Lake Stevens scored twice during an all-action second half to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead with the clock winding down.
Four minutes remained when the Bruins were awarded a free kick just outside Lake Stevens’ penalty box. Agyei lined the ball up, bent a right-footed shot around the Vikings’ wall and put it into the near-upper corner to tie the score and force the game into overtime.
“My coach always tells me, ‘If you feel it, take it,’” said the talented sophomore forward, who battled through a hip injury to make a decisive impact on the game. “At that point I was just feeling it, I knew I had it, so I told (my teammates) I was taking it. Marcos (Lujan) came over and asked me, ‘Sam, are you sure?’ and I was positive. When I struck that ball I knew it was going in.”
Then it seemed appropriate that such an evenly-matched contest required extra time, even during penalty kicks. The shootout was tied 4-4 through the first five attempts, but Cascade converted each of its final five attempts. When Lake Stevens’ final shot flew wide, the Bruins were able to celebrate.
“We’re really banged up, and they did a great job,” Croft said. “They played as a unit, my defense is so fantastic, I’m just really excited.
“This is big for us,” Croft added. “These guys haven’t been here in so long. To play on the road, against a team you match up so well against, and to come out with a victory is huge for us. We’re so excited to be a part of this.”
The first half saw little in the way of scoring chances until Agyei produced a moment of magic in the 32nd minute. He corralled the ball outside Lake Stevens’ penalty box, then used close ball control to twist, turn and weave his way through a slew of Vikings defenders and put himself free on goal. He then rolled the ball past Lake Stevens goalkeeper Vaughn Silver to give the Bruins a 1-0 lead.
The game came alive in the second half, and it was the Vikings who benefitted. Lake Stevens tied it five minutes into the second half when good ball movement worked Bush free into the right side of Cascade’s penalty box. Bush rolled a cross out front, where Sands beat his marker to the ball and hammered it into the top of the net, making it 1-1.
Lake Stevens went ahead in the 58th minute, this time with Sands and Bush trading places. Sands used his size and strength to hold off a defender for a bouncing long ball into the right side of the penalty box. He then slid a pass across the goal box, and Bush was able to touch it just inside the far corner to give the Vikings the lead.
Later in the half, Cascade had great chances from a pair of long free kicks into the box, but Lake Stevens’ defense cleared both goal-bound shots away, and it looked like the Bruins had missed their moment.
Agyei, however, made no mistake when given his final chance.
Lake Stevens then had the better chances during the two five-minute overtime periods, but Cascade goalkeeper Scott Pease made a crucial diving save on Ignacio Ponce’s drive during the second OT to get the Bruins to the decisive penalty kicks.
At Lake Stevens H.S.
Cascade won shootout 8-7
Goals—Samuel Agyei (Cas) 2, Max Sands (LS), Zach Bush (LS). Assists—Bush (LS), Sands (LS). Goalkeepers—Cascade: Scott Pease. Lake Stevens: Vaughn Silver. Records—Cascade 9-6-2. Lake Stevens 8-6-3.