By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SHORELINE — For 60 minutes Thursday night, the Shorewood Thunderbirds boys soccer team appeared almost human.
Luckily for the Thunderbirds, there are 80 minutes in a high school game. Shorewood broke a scoreless tie with 20 minutes and 24 seconds to play in the 3A District 1 championship game and held on in the game’s final minutes for a 1-0 victory that kept the T-birds undefeated (19-0)
Junior Dawda Dibba scored the game-winner for the Thunderbirds, controlling a pass in the air and beating Glacier Peak goalkeeper Jesus Mendoza in the upper right corner of the goal.
“Our focus in the second half was to not let them get into our defense,” Shorewood head coach Nathan Davis said. “So we were able to get a turnover in the middle of the field and he (Dibba) has a lot of speed up top. We play a ball outside and we get a cross in, which we always like to do from the outside to the back post. We kept it in the middle of the box. Luckily he was able to just have it fall at his feet and finish it. He’s been great for us, three goals last game and he just finds the net right now. He’s on fire.”
Dibba said Davis motivated the team at halftime after a shaky start.
“In the second half, coach gave us a lot of motivation and that’s what got us up,” Dibba said. “We wanted it. It’s our field, it’s our time, our game and we went for it.”
The Thunderbirds add the title of district champions to an already impressive resume that includes being the No. 1 ranked 3A team in the state by the Seattle Times and being ranked 32nd nationally by ESPN. Shorewood has allowed just three goals this season and has trailed only once.
Despite all those gaudy numbers, Glacier Peak made it a game, controlling the tempo in the first half.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Glacier Peak coach Shannon Murray said. “My guys have grown up a lot this year. I think you see our record over the course of the season and how well we have done towards the end here. You could see that we’ve grown up a lot. That game earlier in the year would have been three or four to nothing. That’s a different story tonight.”
Even after Dibba’s goal, when thing started to look bleak for the Grizzlies, Murray’s young team never appeared intimidated. Glacier Peak’s Greyden Saunders had a shot at getting the equalizer with just over five minutes to play, but Shorewood defender Sam Jang slid over to make a block. It was the last legitimate scoring opportunity the Grizzlies had.
“Credit to our guys for the buildup to get to that point, all the stuff, unlucky we didn’t get the shot off, but you know, that was, I think, our one chance and next time it comes around, we’ll finish that,” Murray said.
Glacier Peak plays Mount Vernon at 1 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium for the district’s second berth in the state tournament. The loser of Saturday’s game is eliminated. Davis said it’s a game he expects Glacier Peak will win.
“Shannon is by far one of the best coaches in our league and he’s got that team playing very, very well,” Davis said. “I have no doubt that they will be in the state tournament with us and I don’t want to see them there because I don’t think we will get them another time.”
Shorewood’s win Thursday was its third over Glacier Peak this season.
Murray now faces the challenge of getting his team prepared to play a loser-out/winner-to-state game.
“It’s tough,” Murray said. “I just told the guys first of all, ‘Don’t hang your heads.’ We have nothing to be disappointed in, in the fact that our effort and our approach to the game and what we did under these circumstances with a nice crowd and all that. The ball just didn’t bounce our way in the end. I think it is more just, ‘OK, forget this experience and now we have more of a job to do.’”
For the Thunderbirds, going into state undefeated and ranked No. 1 won’t be easy either.
“It’s a huge target,” Davis said. “But I told these guys in the pregame, ‘From game one … the target gets bigger and the pressure gets bigger.’ Every game they have stepped up to that and they’ve won.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Shorewood 1, Glacier Peak 0
Goals—Dawda Dibba (S). Assists—Danny Han (S). Goalkeepers—Shorewood: Daniel Nadeau. Glacier Peak: Jesus Mendoza. Records—Glacier Peak 8-6-5; Shorewood 19-0.