LAKE STEVENS — Perhaps the most symbolic moment of Glacier Peak’s 4A District 1 title match against Mariner came with two minutes to play.
Mariner, trailing by a goal and desperate to equalize, had a scoring chance off a corner. The ball was placed right in the center of frenzied scoring box, with both teams recklessly attacking the ball. The Marauders nearly snuck the ball into the net before it was cleared.
Once the dust settled, two Mariner players were left writhing in pain on the ground as Glacier Peak senior defender Camron Miller slowly made his way to the sideline with a bloodied head.
Glacier Peak coach Kyle Veach knew his Grizzlies were in for a battle Thursday night, and with a state berth on the line, GP and Mariner produced a hard-fought 80 minutes of soccer that was fittingly decided by one of Wesco 4A’s premier scoring duos.
Keegan Rubio from Danny Guerrero has been a winning formula all season for Glacier Peak, and the combination proved fruitful again, as Rubio scored the game’s only goal off an assist from Guerrero in the 59th minute, giving the Grizzlies a 1-0 win on a rainy night at Lake Stevens High School.
“It’s supposed to be a battle, and it reflected that,” Veach said. “It was an absolute grind. Everyone is good at this point. We just earned the right to be one of the top 16 teams in the state. Mariner is a fantastic team. They are big, they play direct, but we were the better team.”
Glacier Peak (13-4-1), which moved up from 3A to 4A this past year, earned its third consecutive state berth and will hope to advance past the state quarterfinals, where the Grizzlies’ season ended a year ago.
Mariner (12-4-2), which failed to beat GP for the third time this spring, will face Kamiak at 3 p.m. Saturday at Lake Stevens High School in a winner-to-state, loser-out match.
The first 40 minutes of Thursday’s contest produced few scoring opportunities. It wasn’t until midway through the second half that Glacier Peak finally broke through.
Rubio created some open space from 20 yards out after a feed from Guerrero and struck a hard, bouncing shot toward goal. Mariner goalkeeper Brihan Castaneda dove, fully extended to his right, but couldn’t get a hand on the ball as it found its way into the bottom-left portion of the net.
Teammates mobbed Rubio as he celebrated, pointing his hand to the sky before performing a somersault.
“Keegan and Danny, a lot of our offense flows through them,” Veach said. “Keegan is lethal at all times. He is leading our team in goals, and Danny is leading our team in assists. They combine all the time. As you saw it come to Danny’s feet, I just watched. It’s beautiful.”
Mariner pressed extremely hard and nearly scored several times in the waning moments. Fernando Tavares had a great header opportunity off a corner in stoppage time, but Glacier Peak freshman goalkeeper Marco Guerrero turned the shot away, showcasing his quick reflexes.
The shutout was only the second time Mariner has been held scoreless all season.
”Our defense is playing great,” Veach said. “They are really jelling together. To keep (Mariner standout) Bakary (Dibba) scoreless through three games, I think that is another trophy.”