EVERETT — After a regular-season split and a shared conference title, Glacier Peak in its third meeting with Mount Vernon emphatically laid claim to the 4A District 1 boys soccer crown.
And the Grizzlies’ stars delivered in GP’s biggest game of the year.
“The last three games we have been changing,” Grizzlies coach Teddy Mitalas said. “We went to a new lineup, and now they are together. I had to change it up a little bit, and it’s working. I’m proud of these boys.”
Senior forward Keegan Rubio scored twice, including what Mitalas estimated was the “goal of the year,” Danny Guerrero added a goal and an assist and Glacier Peak claimed its fourth consecutive state berth with a 3-0 Class 4A District 1 tournament title game win over Mount Vernon on Thursday night at Goddard Stadium.
Rubio and Guerrero have proven to be a prolific scoring duo throughout their careers, and the pair was back at it Thursday.
“Keegan is our backbone,” Mitalas said. “Yes, I am going to admit that. He has got great skills and everything like that, and he’s a team player.”
Keegan’s younger brother, Hayden Rubio, gave GP critical minutes, too, recording an assist to both Keegan and Guerrero.
Both teams played lock-down defense throughout the majority of the first half until Glacier Peak, in the 37th minute, found an opening in Mount Vernon’s back third.
The Grizzlies (12-3-1) struggled to create much of any offensive buildup, but all Guerrero and Keegan needed was one Mount Vernon mistake.
Guerrero made it happen with a crafty move on a Bulldogs defender to create enough space to send a perfectly-placed cross into the box. Guerrero found his big target in the elder Rubio, who calmly collected the ball and put a shot past Mount Vernon goalkeeper Amador Quiroga-Aviles from close range to give GP a 1-0 lead and a huge shot of momentum going into halftime.
Keegan Rubio followed his first goal with an absolute top-class finish in the 65th minute. Hayden played a short cross to his brother, who was awaiting the ball in the middle of the field 15 yards out from goal. Keegan turned his body, and on the volley, blasted a shot into the upper-left portion of the goal to extend the Grizzlies’ lead to 2-0.
“To score a volley like that, I’d have to say that is the goal of they year,” Mitalas said.
Keegan admitted the goal ranks among the top ones he’s ever scored and credited the goal to the fact his brother was the one passing him the ball.
The tension of a tightly contested district title game boiled over in the 72nd minute when a scuffle broke out on the far sideline following a Glacier Peak tackle. Ultimately, a Grizzlies player was sent off with a red card.
But even with a man down, Glacier Peak managed to extend its lead to 3-0 in stoppage time. Hayden Rubio played a free kick into the box, and found Guerrero streaking toward the goal. Guerrero, in one smooth motion, flicked the ball with his head and redirected it past Quiroga-Aviles to send the Grizzlies off with a convincing win.
The shutout marked just the second time all year the Bulldogs have been held scoreless. GP defenders Parker Terry, Bryce Crowder, Favi Zenteno, Mark Granados and goalkeeper Marco Guerrero played key roles in the strong defensive effort.
“We missed Favi,” Mitalas said. “He was out for a couple of weeks because of his knee, and that hurt us a bit because we had to go to a different lineup. Once we got him back, we got back to the lineup we had at the beginning of the year. It’s really helping.”
Glacier Peak will get some time off before it begins its journey to improve on last year’s third-place state finish.
“It’s a big deal,” said Guerrero of Glacier Peak reaching the state tournament. “Hopefully we can repeat what we did last year and hopefully do better.”