EDMONDS — Friday night’s game was a must-win for the Edmonds-Woodway High School boys soccer team.
Therefore, the Warriors couldn’t have picked a better time to produce perhaps their best performance of the season.
Fareed Zerafat scored a hat trick, and Edmonds-Woodway gave its playoff hopes a huge boost by defeating the Kamiak Knights 4-1 at Edmonds District Stadium.
“It’s probably one of the best games we’ve played this season, especially since we’ve switched to a 4-3-3 formations midseason,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Tony Gilman said. “It’s the first time they’ve come close to playing it the way I think it should be played.
“We spread the field, and our wing forwards did a better job of staying in their space and not collapsing in when he had the ball,” Gilman explained. “And we kept the ball on the floor for the most part.”
Friday’s game shaped up as a potential playoff decider. Edmonds-Woodway came into the game in third place in the Wesco South with 11 points, just one ahead of Kamiak. With three teams advancing to district from the league, the winner of Friday’s game would take control of the race for that final berth. Given that Edmonds-Woodway’s final two games are against Mariner and Jackson, the teams that occupy first and second in the league, it was particularly critical that the Warriors get points.
Thanks to an explosive offensive performance, which also included a Kamiak own goal, Edmonds-Woodway (5-7 league, 5-8-1 overall) is now in the driver’s seat.
“I was (looking at it as a must-win game),” Gilman said. “I hope the players were. I try not to talk about that, we knew what we needed to do.”
Kamiak (3-9, 3-11) now faces an uphill battle to reach the postseason. The Knights trail the Warriors by four points and need to win their final two games — one of which is against first-place Jackson — and also receive help to claim the final playoff berth.
“We kind of have to see how things play out now,” Kamiak coach Garfield Scott said. “We’ve got two matches left and we’re going to fight all the way to the end. It’s kind of tough now, but we’ll see how it goes.”
“We started off a bit slow,” Scott added about Friday’s performance. “Toward the end of the first half we picked it up a bit. But in the second half we made a couple mistakes and they got goals. That’s the way it goes.”
Jordan Myers scored the lone goal for Kamiak.
Kamiak’s main tormentor was Zerafat. The senior midfielder was a constant menace on the right wing as he brought his goal tally to five in Edmonds-Woodway’s past two games.
“He thinks he’s been struggling all season, though he’s been contributing in a lot of other ways,” Gilman said of Zerafat. “He brings a different element, plus he always gets back to mark his guy.”
Edmonds-Woodway also received a strong game from senior goalkeeper Erik Whitney, who made several good saves, including two when the Warriors were clinging to a one-goal lead.
The Warriors grabbed the game by the nape from the start, and they took the lead just seven minutes in. Zerafat tried his luck with a shot from 30 yards out, and the ball lofted over Kamiak goalkeeper Austin Porter and into the far corner, staking Edmonds-Woodway to an early 1-0 lead.
The Warriors continued to dominate possession, and they doubled their lead in the 25th minute, again through Zerafat. Michael Haan lofted the ball forward into the penalty box. Zerafat timed his run to perfection, cutting in front of his marker to get to the ball first, then touching it past Porter before side-footing it into the open net.
Edmonds-Woodway then let off the gas, and Kamiak stunned the Warriors with a bullet from Myers. There seemed little danger when Myers lined up his shot from 30 yards out. However, Myers connected with a piledriver that slammed into the far corner off the inside of the post, making it 2-1 after 30 minutes.
The goal energized the Knights, who twice had great opportunities to tie it before halftime. But both times Whitney made diving saves to preserve Edmonds-Woodway’s lead.
The Warriors then put the game away early in the second half. First, three minutes into the second half, Jason Major got behind the defense on the left, and his centering pass was turned into the net by a Kamiak defender for an own goal.
Then three minutes later Zerafat completed his hat trick to give the Warriors an unassailable three-goal advantage. An inch-perfect through ball by Zach Sakoi released Zerafat down the left. Zerafat had a tight angle to work with, but he somehow powered a shot past Porter at the near post.