By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — After five league games, the Mariner boys soccer team stands alone in first place in the 4A Wesco South.
The Marauders defeated Kamiak 2-1 on Tuesday night to remain the lone unbeaten team in the league.
The first half was a battle where both teams tried to assert their own style of play. Mariner tried to control the possession with short passes. The Knights on the other hand looked to create opportunities with long balls and crosses to catch the defense off guard.
Neither team had much luck establishing what they wanted do in the first 30 minutes as scoring opportunities proved to be scarce.
One of Kamiak’s best opportunities came with just over 10 minutes to play in the half. The Knights had the ball near the Mariner goal with three chances to get the game’s opening goal, but were unable to capitalize.
That opened the door for Mariner. The Marauders regained possession and pushed the ball down the field with a quick counter-attack. Senior Miguel Medina controlled the ball in the middle of the field sent a shot into the upper right corner of the goal out of the reach of Kamiak goalkeeper Roland Upenieks for the game’s first goal in the 31st minute.
Mariner maintained the 1-0 lead for the remaining nine minutes of the first half.
The Marauders came out as the more aggressive team after halftime. In the first 10 minutes of the second half Mariner had three legitimate chances to create separation with a second goal but came up empty.
This time it was Kamiak that took advantage with the counter-attack. Senior Sammy Cho controlled a pass from almost the exact same spot that Medina had scored from in the first half and beat Mariner goalkeeper Silvan Katynskiy for the equalizer.
The momentum seemed to have shifted back to the Knights, though Mariner didn’t seem flustered. Just over three minutes later, sophomore Miguel Lopez scored what ultimately proved to be the game-winning goal.
“The one thing about this year’s team is all the kids that I have, pretty much the temper is relaxed,” Marauders head coach Vince DeSimone said. “If someone scores on us, I’m not really worried because I know they are still going to play the same game and that’s what we preach.”
Lopez’s goal might have been less of a case of skill as it was being in the right place at the right time. But after several missed opportunities earlier in the game, the Marauders took what they could get. The goal was set up on a corner kick by Medina that was handled by the Knights, but the ball came back to Medina who sent a cross back into dangerous territory for Kamiak. Junior Yaya Jammeh, who has been on the varsity squad for just over two weeks, headed the ball toward a teammate. Somewhere in the chaos, the ball got deflected right to Lopez, who put it away for the go-ahead goal.
Kamiak had numerous chances in the final 25 minutes to tie the game, including a well-placed cross with five seconds to play in the game, but came away empty-handed.
“It’s always like that in a soccer game with a team leading 2-1,” DeSimone said. “One minute or even a half of a minute left in the game the (losing) team is still going to try to push everybody into the box and try to cause chaos or whatever. I wasn’t scared because I have some top players back there.”
Kamiak junior co-captain Matt Simmons saw a few missed opportunities after the game.
“I think we didn’t start out as hard as we could of and I guess we should have taken more opportunities when we had them,” he said. “But otherwise I thought it was relatively even.”
The game not only helped the Maruaders remain alone in first place and undefeated in league, but it was also a victory over their biggest rival.
“They are a rival,” DeSimone said. “But I don’t look at it anymore as a rivalry because Garfield Scott is pretty much a good friend of mine. He is a good coach. I love to coach against him because it’s a game. He wants a soccer game, not a violent game and he wants to play soccer and I love that. That’s the way I was raised and he was raised the same way.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Kamiak H.S.
Goals—Miguel Medina (M), Miguel Lopez (M), Sammy Cho (K). Assists—Jose Ramos (M), Medina (M). Goalkeeper—Mariner: Silvan Katynskiy. Kamiak: Roland Upenieks. Records—Mariner 5-0-0 league, 5-1-0 overall; Kamiak 3-2-0, 3-3-0.