By David Krueger Herald Writer
SEATTLE — Lake Stevens had to contend with more than just opposing soccer teams the last couple weeks.
The Vikings also had to deal with injuries. Lots of them.
Those injuries finally caught up with Lake Stevens, who was playing without four starters on Saturday, as Roosevelt upended the Vikings 2-0 in a winner-to-state game at Memorial Field.
The loss in the Kingco-Wesco crossover game ended the Vikings’ season.
“We’ve been battling injuries these past few games,” said Lake Stevens head coach Kit Shanholtzer. “… We were digging pretty deep. We have a lot of JV guys that we put in here. Every number past 21 is a JV player.”
That group included Sean Hicks (No. 22), Ignacio Ponce (23), Max Sands (25), Elijah Gordon (32) and Alex Cortez (33).
And it got worse Saturday. Lake Stevens added to its injury woes in the 13th minute when leading scorer Michel Zavalza went down with an injured ankle. He tested his ankle out at halftime and went back in during the second half, although Shanholtzer estimated that Zavalza was playing at “about 80 percent.”
Zavalza joined the injured ranks of Jonathan Perry, Drew Jacques, Brandon Hafenscher and Austin Aitkin. Jon Erickson (hamstring) and Jack Hermes, who played with a cast on a broken hand, fought through injuries and played in the game.
“We’ve been blessed with not having injuries in the past but this (recent onslaught of injuries) made it tough today,” Shanholtzer said.
The depleted Viking squad started the game on the offensive. Their first scoring opportunity came in the first two minutes on a header in front of the goal, but it sailed high. Lake Stevens continued to attack in the early minutes, keeping the ball on Roosevelt’s side of the field for the majority of the time.
But then Zavalza went down, the Roughriders began applying pressure. The physical Roosevelt team got its first goal of the game in the 26th minute when Luke Frey-Wedeen hit a shot from about 20 yards out that hit the top of the crossbar and bounced into the goal.
The Roughriders added an insurance goal in the 60th minute. Danny South was among a contingent of Roosevelt and Lake Stevens players in front of the Vikings’ goal and he kicked a ball that appeared to hit a Lake Stevens defender on its way into the goal.
The final moments of the game got a little tense as Vikings’ players appeared tired of the large, physical Roughriders. Two Lake Stevens players got yellow cards in a three-minute stretch.
“They have a lot of great guys. I think No. 18 (senior defender Charlie Spurr) was a full-adult male. He looks 36,” Shanholtzer said.
Lake Stevens wasn’t entirely sure what to expect coming into the game against the Kingco team, which won the league championship last year. Shanholtzer said the Vikings scouted Roosevelt a little, and found a lot of what they saw on film in Saturday’s game: a quick team that plays physical.
The Vikings were comforted by the fact that they tied with Newport, the other Kingco team they faced this season. Newport beat Roosevelt 4-1. Still Shanholtzer said that the conference wasn’t familiar to Lake Stevens and Wesco.
“Kingco’s almost an unknown,” Shanholtzer said.
Shanholtzer said that he’s sad to see the season end for the Vikings and its 12 seniors, including starting goalkeeper Brennen Countryman who made several spectacular diving saves in Saturday’s loss. He said he’ll remember this group, which hadn’t played together a whole lot, coming together and forming a bond that helped Lake Stevens make a deep playoff run.
“This team is comprised of guys that hadn’t spent a lot of time playing together,” Shanholtzer said. “There were role players and guys just great to be around. We were trying to figure out where we were. We competed with everybody.”
At Seattle Memorial Stadium
Goals–Luke Frey-Wedeen (R), Danny South (R). Assists–Jacob Merkle (R), Shane Gomez (R). Goalkeepers–Lake Stevens: Brennen Countryman. Roosevelt: Julien Leveque. Records –Lake Stevens 13-5-2 overall. Roosevelt 11-5-2.