Wa-Hi’s Ricardo Saldana (left) shouts in celebration and hugs teammate Alexis Medina after Medina scored the Blue Devils’ second goal against Lewis and Clark Tuesday on the Whitman Athletic Fields.
Photo by Jeff Horner.
WALLA WALLA — The Walla Walla High School boys soccer team slayed the Lewis and Clark Tigers at the Whitman Athletic Fields Tuesday evening, 2-1, in the battle of the No. 2 seed in the regional tournament.
Wa-Hi now moves on to play at Ferris, a 2-1 loser to Richland on Tuesday, for the No. 2 seed to the state championships. That match will be at noon Saturday at Joe Albi Stadium in Spokane.
The Blue Devils outshot the Tigers, 20-14, with four on-goal and two scoring for Wa-Hi.
The Tigers put five on goal and scored one.
Wa-Hi jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the match. The Blue Devils attacked the Tiger goal in rapid succession, putting up four shots in less than 10 minutes before scoring in the 25th minute of the first half.
On a corner kick, Wa-Hi’s Ricardo Saldana booted it to Francisco Sanchez, who knocked it into the upper-left corner of the net for the 1-0 lead.
In the 27th minute and on their next shot, Sanchez set up Alexis Medina point-blank and just to the left of the goal. Medina squared it up and kicked it into the upper-right corner, ricocheting slightly off the leaping Lewis and Clark goalie, Trevor Bigelow.
After taking the 2-0 lead, Wa-Hi gave a goal back in the 32nd minute of the first half. The Tigers’ Colin Lloyd dribbled unattended up the right side and shot it in the left-hand corner.
It was 2-1 at half, and no one scored in the second half.
“It’s about time we kept a lead!” Wa-Hi coach Mike Washington said. “How many times have we been ahead 2-0 and lost it? It actually turned out right tonight. Lewis and Clark worked hard at the end, and we battled.”
The Tigers put four shots up in the last eight minutes of the game. One of them was a header off the crossbar on a corner kick.
Lewis and Clark also received a second team yellow card, this one to Jason Ciaffa, for slamming a dead ball to the ground.
The Tigers’ Lloyd received a first yellow card in the ninth minute of the first half, for slapping a Blue Devil player on the back after having been the victim of a slide tackle.
“Hats off to Lewis and Clark, they worked really hard in the last few minutes. They put us under a lot pressure,” Washington said. “Our keeper (Mason Ahrens) came up big when he needed to. Good for him.”
Lewis and Clark put up some shots late, but their best scoring opportunities may have been in the middle of the second half.
In the 52nd minute, the Tigers’ Matt Martin nearly scored from the right side on kick that was stopped by Ahrens, who was fully outreached and diving for the ball.
At the 58th minute, the Tigers’ Austin Giem broke away on a one-on-one with Ahrens, and the charging Blue Devil keeper was able to bat the ball away and out of bounds to end the threat.
“We had to defend more in the second half,” Washington said. “In the first half, our offense helped us out a bit more.”
Wa-Hi started out with a couple near misses in opening of the second half, before outshooting the Tigers overall in the half, 10-6.
“There have been six games that we’ve been in and given them away,” Washington said. “We needed the confidence of winning that close game today. To win a game 2-1 is fine.”