EDMONDS — The beauty and the curse of a single-elimination tournament is that advancing or heartbreak can come down to a fleeting moment.
Meadowdale was subjected to the latter of those two outcomes, but the Mavericks are trying to prevent playoff heartbreak from defining their season as a whole.
After falling behind 1-0 in the opening minute of play, Meadowdale couldn’t scramble back and fell, 3-0, to Interlake on Wednesday in the first round of the 3A state tournament at Edmonds Stadium.
“There were a lot of great moments throughout the whole year,” Meadowdale head coach Michael Nelson said. “To end it this way was disappointing, but we can’t let it summarize our whole year. … Interlake played a great game and they were the better side tonight and the scoreboard showed that.
“But overall, I couldn’t be more happier this season. I wouldn’t want any other boys to coach.”
The Saints’ Sybren Russell scored his first of two goals in the match in the first minute of action, firing a 30-yard missile in the top right corner of the Meadowdale goal to put Interlake up 1-0.
“I think that was a shock for about everyone in the stadium. I think even the guy that shot it was shocked,” Nelson said with a chuckle. “I don’t think anyone saw that coming at 28 seconds.”
“That kind of dictated the whole game,” Nelson continued. “It’s hard being down as it is and you start doing things differently, and early on in the game and you’re playing 79 minutes down, you’re taken out of your element and it swings momentum. … That one hurt.”
Meadowdale had a sterling chance for the equalizer right in the shadow of halftime, as midfielder Momodou Sidibeh found the ball at his feet in space as he approached the 6-yard box, but Interlake goaltender Julio Canimo rushed up to make the save and preserve the Saints’ shutout.
Russell tacked on his second goal in the 62nd minute, earning a penalty kick after being tackled from behind in the box on the attack and buried it to put the Saints up 2-0.
The Saints added an insurance goal in the stoppage time of the second half, as Addison Lopez finished a cross near the right post from Harlan Verthein to put the Saints up 3-0.
“In many ways, we beat ourselves tonight,” Nelson said. “Not to take anything away from Interlake, they’re a good side, but I thought we beat ourselves and made some mistakes that we usually don’t make. … A couple mistakes can make a 3-0 game, and that’s OK. We’ll learn from this and march on.”
Although the season ended in disappointing fashion for Meadowdale, the Mavericks are focusing on the face that they reached the state tournament for the first time since 2005.
That’s an accomplishment senior captain Cole Jackson said he will cherish forever.
“I’ll tell you, in all my four years this is my favorite one for sure,” Jackson said. “Tough way to lose, but we made it here and my team is just amazing. Some things went wrong, but loved my season. (I have) no regrets.”
“To experience this game right here as a senior felt awesome, because not a lot of people get to experience it.”
The Mavericks’ season ends with a 14-6 overall record. The Mavericks will graduate eight seniors, and their entire back line accounts for four of the five starters that will be departing. Even so, Meadowdale returns many key players, such as junior midfielder Stephen Koon, sophomore forward River Stewart, junior goalkeeper Kyle Houk and junior forward Sidibeh.
“I think in the long term, this season was a success,” Nelson said. “There’s a lot of things to build off of, thanks to these seniors and these guys overall. Long term, I’m happy. Like I told the boys, sucks to go out this way, but we’re building a big foundation off of this and we’ll go forward from here.”