PUYALLUP — The Jackson High School boys soccer team has had a season for the ages. However, that season won’t be ending with a state championship.
The Timberwolves’ bid to claim the school’s first boys soccer state championship came thudding to a halt Friday night as they fell 4-0 to the Puyallup Vikings in the 4A state semifinals at Sparks Stadium.
Puyallup received two goals from Dane Helle, one apiece from Spencer Williams and Craig Johnson, and two assists from the impressive Logan Oyama, who orchestrated everything the Vikings did offensively.
“I would say we played OK — they played really well,” Jackson coach Sarah Smart said. “They came into this game very competitive and focused and accomplished a lot. We came in and played OK, we didn’t have our best game by any stretch of the imagination. Usually we’re pretty fiery.”
Puyallup (19-2) advanced to face Mount Si for the state title at 5 p.m. Saturday.
Jackson (18-2-1), which was playing in the state semifinals for the first time in school history, faces Ferris in the third-place game at noon Saturday. Regardless of how the T-wolves fare against the Saxons they’ll earn their first ever state trophy.
“They’ve had a phenomenal season,” Smart said about her team. “They’ve accomplished more than any other team at Jackson has accomplished. They’ve made it the farthest, they’ve scored the most goals, they’ve given up the least amount of goals, they won league for the first time in 14 years, they made it to state the first time in eight years. I’m very proud of what they’ve accomplished, and it’s really incredible how a team can really come together under a new coach in one year and do so much.”
Friday wasn’t a case of Jackson being completely overwhelmed. The T-wolves tried to play their ball-control game and had their share of possession. However, once Jackson advanced the ball to midfield the T-wolves had nowhere to go as Puyallup hustled them off the ball time after time. And when the Vikings broke they did so with deadly efficiency.
The net result was a final score that didn’t reflect the overall flow of the game, but did reflect the scoring chances created.
“They had a high-pressure defense and we didn’t adjust for that until the last 10 minutes of the game,” Smart lamented.
The signs of how the game was going to go came early as Puyallup had the ball in the Jackson net inside 70 seconds from the opening kickoff, though it didn’t end up counting. A cross over the top caught the T-wolves’ defense out, and a volley attempt turned into a cross that was tapped into the net, though the play was flagged for offsides.
However, it wasn’t long before the Vikings had a goal that counted. In the 12th minute Puyallup turned the T-wolves over in midfield, with the ball finding its way to Williams’ feet. Williams took a peek, saw Jackson goalkeeper Justin Huttinger well off his line, and decided to try his luck from 45 yards out. Huttinger backpedaled, leaped and managed to get fingers on the ball, but he couldn’t keep it from settling into the back of the net as the Vikings took a spectacular 1-0 lead.
Puyallup made it 2-0 in the 23rd minute. On a quick break Oyama clipped an across-the-grain pass over the Jackson defense and into the path of Helle streaking down the middle. Helle slotted the ball into the right corner off the inside of the post, giving the Vikings a two-goal advantage heading into halftime.
Any chance of a second-half Jackson comeback was quickly squelched as the Vikings scored again seven minutes in. Johnson’s through ball somehow threaded its way through three defenders to Helle, who held off his marker and rolled the ball past Huttinger to make it 3-0.
The final gloss was put on Puyallup’s victory in the 56th minute when Oyama raced past the Jackson defense on the right, then centered for Johnson, who spun past his defender and thumped a shot into the top of the net from 12 yards out to make it 4-0.
Jackson pressed for a consolation goal late, but even when the T-wolves finally created a grade-A scoring chance, Vikings goalkeeper Brandon Limes stabbed his leg out to deny Vincenzo D’Onofrio’s point-blank attempt.