By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
LAKE STEVENS — Mariner’s Jose Alvarez didn’t expect that the first-round district playoff game between his team and Lake Stevens would come down to him.
The senior defender certainly was an important cog in the Marauder defensive machine that held the Vikings scoreless for 80 minutes of regulation and two five-minute overtimes, but no one at Lake Stevens High School Saturday night thought the end result would come down to his foot.
After nine rounds of deadlocked penalty kicks, Lake Steven’s tenth shooter, senior Jacob Scott nailed his shot, but it struck the post square, making an ominous sound that echoed through the stadium.
Next Alvarez calmly stepped up, staring down the stadium’s east goal which was back lit by a bright full moon just rising over the mountains, and converted, giving Mariner a 1-0 win with a 9-8 penalty kick advantage.
The victory advances the Marauders to a second-round game against Jackson at Everett Memorial Stadium at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. It means Mariner is guaranteed at least two more games and thus multiple chances to advance to the 4A state tournament.
“I really didn’t (expect to have to shoot),” Alvarez said. “I thought we were just going to finish right away. When it came to me, I was kind of nervous, but I knew that I just had to keep my concentration and make it for Mariner.”
He used his eyes before he shot to throw off Lake Stevens keeper James Tanner.
“When I got up I looked at one of the corners,” Alvarez said. “I knew he was going to dive (to that corner), so I knew I just had to kick it straight up.”
Alvarez did what the rest of the team couldn’t for 90 minutes of play.
Score the game-winner.
Mariner dominated most of the game, owning every metric other than corner kicks, but they couldn’t get it past Tanner or his second-half partial sub Brennen Countryman. Though an official shot count was not available, Mariner coach Vince DeSimone estimated that it was about 15-2 in his team’s favor.
Everyone could agree that the Marauders teed off in regulation, but couldn’t find the net.
“I was just impressed with the Mariner side. … It was an onslaught,” first-year Lake Stevens coach Kit Shanholtzer said.
The Marauders have had some ups and downs this season and the team has gone through so team bickering, but all that went away Saturday. DeSimone told his team that they earned the win regardless of the penalty-kick result.
“The boys really believed in themselves,” the Marauder coach said. “We got to play as a team. No more of this, ‘I gotta be forward. I gotta be back.’ We’ve got to play where we are needed. And today that was it.”
Yuriy Nagornyy notched a clean sheet for Mariner, but split time in goal during penalty kicks with Christian Robles, who is the normal Marauder center fullback.
Robles also plays keeper on his club team, so DeSimone thought that might give his team an edge, but the switch didn’t matter much. The Vikings made all their chances except for Scott and Kyle Lawson, who’s shot sailed over the crossbar. The Mariner side was nearly perfect, but sophomore Edgar Navarro’s shot also sailed high.
Shanholtzer said the game’s result came down to desire.
“My kids wanted it but we had a couple kids fighting illness so it was tough,” he said.
Senior midfielder and captain Tanner Sellers missed the game with an undisclosed illness.
“It’s always horrible to lose, but we ended it actually as a team and working hard,” Shanholtzer said. “So I think it was tough, but I’m proud of them.”
Mariner now shifts its focus to Jackson, a team that DeSimone felt his team outplayed in two losses during the regular season.
“I don’t say bad things about clubs, but we played much better,” DeSimone said. “We just could not score.
“We had so many shots on goal, we just couldn’t put the ball in the net.”
The same happened Saturday night, but the Marauders found a way to advance.
“You could name just about everyone,” DeSimone said. “The whole team was playing some hard ball.”