SHORELINE — Even if Drew Thompson’s club wasn’t ready to believe him, the Shorecrest coach caught an early feeling that this Scots team could be special.
“We’ve had some very good teams over the years, and I told the boys the second day of tryouts, ‘Look, guys, this kind of feels like something might be happening this year,’” Thompson recalled. “They didn’t believe me, but they kind of played their way to it.”
Surely, Thompson has a group of believers now, especially after Shorecrest locked up a state tournament berth with a 2-1 3A District 1 tournament semifinal win over Lynnwood on Tuesday night at Shoreline Stadium.
“I’m proud of the boys tonight,” Thompson said. “They fought their hearts out and got themselves to state. That is kind of our standard at Shorecrest. That’s where we want to go.”
Thompson admitted his side didn’t play its best, but midfielder Alex Zahajko scored three minutes in, added a second goal later in the first half and Shorecrest’s defense hunkered down to hold off a Lynnwood attack that came to life during the final 40 minutes.
The win advances the Scots (12-6-0) to the state tournament for the second consecutive year and sets them up with a district title match against Snohomish at 7 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.
Lynnwood (7-10-1), which stunned the Wesco 3A champ Marysville Pilchuck in the opening round following a play-in game win, plays Meadowdale in a loser-out game at 5 p.m. Thursday at Shoreline Stadium.
Zahajko put the Scots on the board early with a goal in the third minute off a nice pass from Ricardo Ruiz. Zahajko was striding down the middle of the field, received a pass right at his feet and blasted a shot from 15 yards out past Lynnwood goalkeeper William Juarez to give Shorecrest a quick 1-0 advantage.
Zahajko’s second goal was a hard shot from roughly 20 yards out. The junior perfectly placed a ball, tucking it just inside the post, as Juarez dove for the ball in vain. The score extended the Scots lead to 2-0 at the 25-minute mark.
“Alex played great tonight,” Thompson said. “He’s been playing great. We’ve moved him around the field quite a bit this year. Just last game I moved him to the middle of the field. He responded with two goals tonight. He had a great performance.”
The Royals, who struggled to put together any chances in the first half, nearly cut the deficit to one in the 54th minute. Dante Mangayi, just before the ball rolled over the endline, sent a beautifully placed cross back over the middle right in front of the goal. Eric Villasenor easily put the ball into the back of the net, but the referee ruled the ball went out of bounds, and the goal was disallowed.
Minutes later, though, Lynnwood broke through in the 58th minute.
The Royals persistence in front of Shorecrest’s goal paid off when Mangayi got his foot on a cross before deflecting the ball off a Shorecrest player and into the back of the net to trim Shorecrest’s lead to 2-1.
Lynnwood came agonizingly close to equalizing during the final 20 minutes, but Shorecrest came up with critical stops.
“Sometimes I feel like I coach two teams,” Lynnwood coach Pablo Mummey said. “We changed a few things in the first half and came out in the second half really wanting this. … I told the boys, ‘It’s not over yet.’ We still have to go out there and keep our heads high, and there is an opportunity to get that third seed (to state). That’s what we’re looking for now.”