Aarjay Narayan knows the feeling of a well-struck soccer ball. He scored five times for the Narrows 3A-winning Wilson High Rams this season.
So when it was his turn to step up and blast a 20-yard free kick, the moment his foot touched the ball, he rejoiced in good thoughts.
“Thought it was going to hit the post,” Narayan said, “and go in.”
But soccer can be a cruel sport where quality shots — and good runs — are not rewarded. The Rams can attest to that on Narayan’s shot, which ended up being deflected by Shorewood goalkeeper Calvin Crawford on a leap high into the air.
And the rest of it, too: Shorewood ended up advancing through the first round of the Class 3A state boys’ soccer playoffs with a 1-0 victory over the Rams at Mount Tahoma Stadium on Wednesday.
Shorewood (15-2), the Wesco 3A South champ, moves on to face unbeaten Bonney Lake in the state quarterfinals on Saturday in Sumner.
Make no mistake, after Narayan’s attempt in the 42nd minute, the Thunderbirds dominated the second half. They outshot Wilson, 11-2, over the final 40 minutes.
“We tried to communicate to our outside backs to press up a little bit more, and put pressure on their defense,” Shorewood coach Bill Wilkins said. “Once we started applying a little more pressure on their defense, the turnovers started to come — and so did the opportunities.”
Wilson (7-5), which was searching for its first state-tournament win since 1977, started out smooth and aggressive on offense, getting off four quality shots early but not being able to convert.
Then, as standouts often do, the best scoring threat for the Thunderbirds took advantage of a Wilson mistake.
Receiving the ball near the Rams’ penalty box, forward Taj McChesney bulled through Wilson’s Juan Murphy-Rodriguez off the dribble and created enough space to send a low whizzing shot past goalkeeper Matvey Shitik inside left post for the match’s lone goal in the 32nd minute.
“(McChesney) is a hard guy to win off the ball,” Wilkins said.
Going down 1-0 at halftime was a bit deflating, Wilson coach Jason Gjertsen noted.
“We had them on their heels in the beginning, and could not put one away,” Gjertsen said.
Even after facing a shot barrage by Shorewood in the second half, the Rams had one final opportunity off a long free kick in the final seconds. Munassar Saleh was able to loop a shot over a wall of Thunderbirds’ defenders, but Crawford handled it on a hop to preserve the shutout.
At Mt. Tahoma H.S.
Goals—Taj McChesney (S). Goalkeepers—Shorewood: Calvin Crawford. Wilson: Matvey Shitik. Records—Shorewood 15-2. Wilson 7-5.