Mariner tops Eastlake on PKs to earn state berth

After squandering a late 2-goal lead, the Marauders win a penalty-kick shootout to advance to state.

SAMMAMISH — The Mariner boys soccer team certainly didn’t make things easy on itself.

But in the end, the result was all that mattered: The Marauders are heading to state.

After squandering a two-goal lead in the final five minutes of regulation, Mariner beat Eastlake and advanced to state with a 4-2 penalty-kick shootout win Saturday afternoon following a 3-3 tie through regulation and extra time in the loser-out Class 4A Wes-King Bi-District Tournament fifth-place match.

“Our boys were frustrated and tired, and that’s a really hard thing to come back from,” Marauders coach Henry Busch said of Eastlake’s two late goals that forced extra time.

“It’s such a big momentum shift, but luckily they were able to push through it. … I couldn’t be more proud of these boys.”

Mariner (12-7-1) seemed well on its way to victory after senior Edgar Guzman scored his second goal of the match, converting a 73rd-minute penalty kick to give the Marauders a 3-1 lead.

Eastlake, however, refused to cave. The Wolves (9-7-1) came roaring back with a 75th-minute goal and a stoppage-time equalizer to stun Mariner and force overtime in the 80-plus degree heat on Eastlake High School’s turf field.

“I thought we controlled the game pretty well, … and then they were able to get two in on us,” Busch said. “Our boys were super tired. It’s really hot out here. They worked all game, so I think they were pretty exhausted, and Eastlake was pushing hard.”

After a scoreless pair of five-minute extra periods, the match went to a shootout.

Guzman, Jeffrey Becerra-Vicente and Antonio Latino converted Mariner’s first three penalty kicks and goalkeeper Ebou Barrow saved one of Eastlake’s first three kicks to give the Marauders a 3-2 lead.

Mariner missed its fourth penalty kick, leaving the door open for the Wolves to even the score. But Barrow came up with a pivotal stop on Eastlake’s fourth kick, making a diving save to his left to preserve the Marauders’ one-goal advantage.

“He’s having just an all-time season,” Busch said. “… I have the utmost confidence in him. We practice PKs every single day, and he’s really good at defending them. He came up with two huge saves.”

Mariner senior Anthony Garcia-Huerta then coolly slotted home the match-winner, placing the Marauders’ fifth penalty kick into the lower-left corner of the net to clinch the 4-2 shootout win. His winning kick sent Mariner’s players sprinting from midfield to mob him and Barrow in a frenzied celebration.

The victory gave the Marauders their first state berth since 2016.

“At the end of the season, we were missing a couple guys that have had some grade problems and stuff,” Busch said. “… It means a ton for the program for guys to fight through all the adversity that they’ve had this year and to be able to make it back (to state).”

It was the second shootout victory in nine days for Mariner, which beat Kamiak in penalty kicks in a May 3 tiebreaker match for Wesco 4A’s No. 2 seed.

“(We) had the same five shooters go (and) same goalie, so all these boys knew what had to be done,” Busch said. “They’ve been here before, so I thought that was a huge advantage for us.”

The Marauders opened the bi-district tournament with a pair of rough losses. Mariner fell 8-1 to KingCo 4A champion Mount Si in Tuesday’s winner-to-state semifinals, then lost 3-0 to Issaquah in another winner-to-state contest Thursday.

But the Marauders showed no signs of a hangover in Saturday’s win-or-go-home match.

Mariner scored on a second-minute goal by Guzman, who received a through ball from Latino down the right side of the pitch and slid a low shot past Eastlake’s goalkeeper for a quick 1-0 lead.

KingCo No. 2 seed Eastlake evened the score in the 20th minute, but the Marauders answered right back in the 24th on a spectacular diving header by Francisco Llamas.

Jesus Robles received the ball on the right side of the pitch and sent a perfectly placed 30-yard aerial pass in front of the net, where Llamas laid out and headed the ball past Eastlake’s goalkeeper for a 2-1 lead.

“They’ve been playing together for four years and they just know where they’re supposed to be, and (Llamas) was right there to put it in,” Busch said. “It was just a spectacular goal.”

That remained the score until Guzman’s penalty-kick goal late in the second half, which kickstarted a drama-filled conclusion to the match.

The Marauders now turn their attention to South Puget Sound League 4A champion Puyallup, their opponent in the opening round of the 16-team state tournament.

“It just feels very amazing, because I’m very proud of my teammates,” Garcia-Huerta said of reaching state. “We worked hard (through) ups and downs this season. It was just a big roller-coaster.”

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