By KEVIN BREIWICK
EDMONDS – A 16-0 regular season record wasn’t supposed to mean an early playoff exit for the Edmonds Community College men’s soccer team.
A stunned bench stood in disbelief as the Tacoma Titans, the fourth-seeded team from the Southwest, upset the undefeated Tritons, 2-0, Sunday night at Edmonds Stadium.
It wasn’t the finish Edmonds’ coach Don Nelson had envisioned. Nonetheless, he couldn’t have asked for a better way to end his career as coach at Edmonds.
“It’s always tough to have a loss like this,” Nelson said. “The boys had a great season. It’s tough they didn’t make it to the next round, but they set a couple records, they won the Northern Division. It was a great trip.
“For me it’s never been about the winning, it’s been about the guys. The fact we didn’t move on and win the whole thing is sad, but at the same time these guys did a tremendous job.”
The Tritons played as if the victory was easily within reach. The Triton defense thwarted Tacoma’s offense early on.
Snohomish High School grad Jay Kendall gave the Tritons their best opportunity to score on a penalty shot, but his shot was kept out of the net by Tacoma’s goalkeeper Sean Patereau dive.
Then Tacoma found a way to break through the Edmonds defense.
Tacoma’s Brian Peterson punched in a rebound off a penalty shot that had bounced off the right post to put Tacoma up 1-0 late in the first half.
“We told them to just keep playing their game,” Nelson said of his halftime speech.
“You have to give it to Tacoma, they came out here to play soccer.”
Desperate for a goal to tie the game, Jessie DeNike, Kamiak High grad, hit Ryan Hopp (Marysville-Pilchuck) with a pass up the middle, but Hopp was unable to get a hard shot off and his shot was lifted too high and over the cross bar.
“We controlled a lot of the game, but they capitalized on their opportunities,” Nelson said.
The Titans put the game away late in the second half when Jason Gjertson lifted his breakaway shot over the head of the Edmonds goalkeeper.
“You can see tonight our team was playing very well,” Nelson said, “it just didn’t happen for us. I’m not sure you can even point at any one thing, it’s just the way it was. There’s no regrets. These guys have worked very hard, they should be very proud of themselves.
For me, win or lose, it’s been a ride. I’ve gotten out of it what I’ve wanted to.”
Nelson’s assistant, Eddie Fernandez, the Lynnwood High School boys coach, takes over as EdCC coach next season.
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