Sports

Oly boys soccer can’t keep up with speedy Rams. Trojans’ run ends at districts

LACEY —?No matter what the Olympic Trojans soccer teams do, they always seem to get the short end of the district seeding stick.

This spring was no different, as the Trojans fell 3-0 to Mount Rainier Saturday at South Sound Stadium.

And while the Trojans did a good job of keeping the Rams (13-2-3) from running away with the game, the Rams kept Oly (9-7) on the defensive enough to take the win.

“We were worried about their speed going into the game,” Oly coach Steve Haggerty said, adding that assistant coach Jeff Trainer scouted the Rams last week. “He said they were pretty fast and skilled.”

Mount Rainier, which has missed just one state tournament since 2001, taking second in 2004 and third in 2005, simply had too much speed for Oly to keep up with. Coupled with good ball control, Haggerty said he knew his Trojans would have to be at the top of their game to win.

“You have to figure if you play to the best of your ability, you can put yourselves in a position to win,” he said. “And we could have been because our kids stepped up and played well.”

Led by 23-goal scorer Darwin Jones, the Rams scored twice in the first half. Jones dished out an assists to Arnoldo Jose Orozco in the 25th minute to make it 2-0 at the half. Jones scored the third goal in the 73rd minute of the game.

A dynamic playmaker, Haggerty said Oly had to contain Jones, a defensive assignment drawn by Oly junior Chris Antonio.

“I thought Chris Antonio did a pretty good job on him,” Haggerty said. “Throughout the game we kept him in check.”

The Trojans made several adjustments, pulling leading scorer Cody Clark to the center midfield spot, where he was joined by Arturo Urquieta. Defender Derek Conway-Newton eventually shifted up top as well as Oly needed to push for a score.

“The game plan was to put (Cody) behind the ball to increase our chances defensively,” Haggerty said. “It was good, but they had us beat outside all day.”

Still, the Trojans kept the Rams from blowing the game wide open, a combination of tough play and strong keeping from sophomore Thomas Bryan, who Haggerty said kept the team in many games this season.

“We figured we had our hands full,” Haggerty said. “We gave them a pretty good run for it.”

The toughest part about the loss yet again was the opponent they played, a trend since the Olympic League reemerged two years ago.

“It seems like we should have had an opportunity to play off for a better seeding in districts,” Haggerty said. “No matter what we do in league, we don’t have a chance to get that No. 1 seed.”

District seeding hands the Olympic League’s top entrant a match for the No. 5 seed into the state tournament, the lowest seeding potential of any No. 1 seed. In fact, the Seamount/South Puget Sound League No. 1 seed hosts the No. 2-seeded team from the Oly League for the top berth into state. The Olympic League is considered weaker by some in the 3A soccer community because of its split-league status with 3A and 2A teams.

“It puts us in a position where it’s almost better to tank it and go for the higher seed,” Haggerty said, as both spots earn tough opponents. MR entered as the No. 5 seed from the Seamount-SPSL. The Western Cascade Conference No. 1 has the opportunity to earn the No. 2 seed, while the winner of the Southwest plays for the No. 3 seed to state.

As a result, Haggerty said he’d like to see a tournament format between the WCC and Oly League similar to what the Seamount and SPSL do that could act as a sub-district tourney, allowing the Oly League’s teams to earn some respect —?and a shot at a better seeding.

“Eventually, if you want to be a state champ, you have to beat a team like that,” Haggerty said. “But it’d be nice to be able to establish a little momentum.”

In fact, Oly finished its league schedule on April 29. In order to stay active between then and Saturday’s game, he scheduled a non-leaguer with Peninsula. With all that time, Haggerty said it would be relatively easy to establish a sub-district tourney.

This season wasn’t the first time Oly’s run into this problem, with the girls taking on 2003 state champs Lakeside in the first round of state.

“Had we gone in and played a No. 3 seed rather than a No. 1 seed right off the bat, we could have made a strong run,” Haggerty said. “As it was, we still played a great game with a man down against a state champion.”

Regardless of how the season ended, Haggerty said it was certainly a strong one for the Trojans, which claimed the top 3A spot in the league. With so many seniors, including Oly League first-teamer Cody Clark, who finished with 11 goals and three assists this season, Haggerty said there’s a lot to miss about the group.

“We’re gonna miss all the goals Cody Clark scored over his career,” Haggerty said. “We’re gonna have trouble finding people with the same consistent scoring.”

Olympic will also see seniors Urquieta, Jake Newling, Alex Klump, Scott Breeding, Levi Hay, Tyler Pisani and Scott Boekenoogen graduate.

“Their passion and love for the game is something we’re really gonna miss,” Haggerty said of all his seniors. “They go at it hard.”

But with an experienced core of returning players like Bryan, Conway-Newton and Antonio has Haggerty feeling excited about next spring too.

“On the other hand, we’ve got a pretty good nucleus,” he said.

Such is the ebb and flow of high school sports.

“It was a good group, a fun group,” Haggerty said. “I’m always disappointed when the season ends. But then I’m excited to see the next group too.”

Oly League honors announces

The Trojans were well represented on the All-Olympic League soccer team, announced last week. Clark, Conway-Newton and Bryan were all first-teamers, while Urquieta was named a second-teamer. Paul Brumm, Jeff LaGranduer and Breeding were all named honorable mentions.

Klahowya’s Darryn Reinertson earned another first-team honor after scoring a team-best five goals for the Eagles. Tucker Moran and John McLaughlin both earned second-team honors. Keeper Justin Shaputis was an honorable mention.

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