The Everett Elite Flag Football 14-under team practices Sunday morning at Harbour Pointe Middle School in Mukilteo, Washington on January 16, 2022. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Community roundup: Local pair headed to MLS NEXT Pro semis

Plus, the Silvertips get a key piece back, Snohomish County is leading a new pickleball push and much more.

A pair of Snohomish County natives are headed to the MLS NEXT Pro semifinals.

Edmonds-Woodway High School graduate Sota Kitahara and Snohomish High School graduate Hal Uderitz both played integral roles as the Tacoma Defiance defeated Houston Dynamo 2 in penalty kicks Sunday at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, thus earning a spot in the Western Conference Final.

MLS NEXT Pro, which is in its inaugural season, consists of MLS reserve teams. The Defiance are an affiliate of Seattle Sounders FC.

Tacoma trailed 2-0 in the 85th minute before staging a remarkable comeback. In stoppage time a cross intended for Kitahara, a midfielder, was deflected into the net by Houston’s Paulo Lima for an own goal that tied it at 2-2 and forced extra time.

Following a scoreless 30 minute of overtime the game went to penalty kicks. Uderitz, a defender, converted Tacoma’s second kick, and the Defiance went on to win the shootout 5-4. Both Kitahara and Uderitz played the full 120 minutes.

The Western Conference Final takes place Sunday, when the second-seeded Defiance travel to face top-seeded St. Louis CITY2 for a berth in the first-ever MLS NEXT Pro Cup.

Hofer returned to Silvertips

The Everett Silvertips are getting one of their top players back as 20-year-old center Ryan Hofer was returned to the team from the NHL’s Washington Capitals.

Hofer, who had 25 goals and 33 assists in 67 games last season, was selected in the sixth round of this year’s NHL draft by the Capitals. As an overager Hofer is eligible to play professionally in the minors this season, and that remained an outside possibility after Hofer advanced from Washington’s rookie camp to main camp last week. Being reassigned means Hofer will spend the 2022-23 season back in the WHL.

Hofer’s return means Everett has multiple decisions to make with its overagers. The Tips have forwards Hofer, Jackson Berezowski and Jacob Wright and defensemen Dylan Anderson and Aidan Sutter, but can keep only three. The overage deadline is Oct. 10.

With Hofer back, Everett has just two players remaining at NHL training camps, 19-year-old defenseman Olen Zellweger (Anaheim) and 18-year-old winger Ben Hemmerling (Vegas). Zellweger is considered a candidate to stick in the NHL, while Hemmerling is expected to be returned to Everett.

The Tips also reassigned forward Carter Bear. Bear, who’s in his 16-year-old season, is expected to play with the Winnipeg Thrashers of the Manitoba U18 AAA Hockey League this season.

Tibke takes second at Senior Men’s Amateur

Snohomish’s Todd Tibke tied for second at the Washington Senior Men’s Amateur Championship golf tournament, held last Tuesday through Thursday at Desert Canyon Golf Resort in Orondo.

Tibke finished with a three-round score of 7-over par 223, which was five strokes behind the winner, Erik Hanson of Kirkland.

Michael Coombs, also of Snohomish, finished fifth at 10-over.

In the Super Senior tournament, Lynnwood’s Chris Degrazia finished third at 16-over (seven shots behind winner Jim McNelis of Gig Harbor), and Mountlake Terrace’s Mark Johnson tied for fourth at 19-over.

Diede earns CCC weekly honor

Everett native Claire Jo Diede, now a senior midfielder on the Northwest University women’s soccer team, was named the Cascade Collegiate Conference Offensive Player of the Week for Sept. 5-11.

Diede, a graduate of King’s High School, scored both goals as the Eagles defeated Vanguard 2-0. It was Diede’s second CCC Offensive Player of the Week award of the season.

County leading another pickleball push

The Mill Creek residents who led the push to make pickleball Washington’s official state sport are working on a new bill. State Sen. John Lovick and Seattle Metro Pickleball Association director Kate Van Gent have partnered on a bill to create a pickleball license plate. An online petition supporting the bill is being circulated and can be found at the Seattle Metro Pickleball Association website.

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