With a win on the road and a loss at home, the boys soccer team is on track to achieve one of its goals from the start of the season: to be in the middle of the 1A Northwest Conference (NWC) standings heading into the postseason.
The Borderites beat Meridian for the second time this season in an away game that they sealed with a last-second goal on April 17. They next took on Sehome at Pipeline Field April 21 and lost 4–0. The Borderites have a 2–5 NWC record, the third best record out of five 1A teams in the conference.
Coach Gio Quesada described the Meridian game as a hard-fought match in the rain.
“We played a lot of the game in front of their net, but they have a great keeper and we couldn’t put it away until the final
minute,” Quesada said. “It was a big game in our conference that we were really happy to win.”
Zach Oakley scored the only goal of the game by following a bouncing shot and poking it in past the goalie.
Playing at home the next week, the Borderites faced a stacked Sehome squad that held off a number of surges from the Borderite offense.
Sehome is a 2A team with a large roster and no shortage of talented players. The match at Pipeline Field got physical at times, with both teams going in hard for every free ball, but both squads displayed class when a Blaine player got hurt midway through the second half: Sehome kicked the ball out of bounds on purpose, and Blaine threw it back in to a Sehome player.
Sehome scored the first goal of the game in the 12th minute when Sam Willis aimed a header into the upper corner of the net. Shortly thereafter, a Blaine through-ball into the 18-yard box yielded a nearly open net when the Sehome keeper dove for the shot. Blaine midfielder John Cochran shot the rebound, but a Sehome defender slid in and deflected the shot off his knee.
Willis scored again in the 17th minute with a breakaway goal. Blaine narrowly missed two more opportunities near the end of the second half when a corner kick led to a bouncing ball in the goalie box, and Sehome defenders deflected two shot attempts.
In the second half, Willis completed his hat trick with a header that he flicked just over the fingertips of Blaine keeper Tristan Hunter, who was rushing out from the line to get involved in the play.
Blaine’s Nick Butschli had a close opportunity in the 52nd minute when he chased down a ball that was headed back to the Sehome keeper. The keeper bobbled the pass and Butschli kicked it away before taking a low-angle shot that bounced off the near post of the goal.
Sehome’s final goal came in the form of a penalty kick. Hunter was able to get a hand on the low, hard shot, but it deflected into the net. Hunter made 11 saves in the game.
“The kids were upset with the loss, but I’m really proud of how they played,” Quesada said. “When we play at home the kids play hard, and the visiting teams are starting to respect them.”
If there’s one thing the team needs to work on, it’s finishing scoring opportunities, Quesada said.
“We need to work on finishing our opportunities. Close misses and deflected shots are a big part of the game. Sometimes you just can’t get the goal.”
If the weather cooperates, the team will face its 1A NWC opponents Mount Baker in an away game on Friday, April 25. Quesada said that game would be a good test for the Borderites.
“We want to get the win at Mount Baker. They’re a good opponent in our conference. Our goal the whole season has been to be firmly in the pack,” Quesada said.
Running with the pack might seem like a modest goal, but it’s an unfamiliar position for the Blaine boys soccer team, which has historically taken the lowest slot in NWC standings. Opposing coaches have commented throughout the season on the progress Blaine has made as a team this year.
“The other coaches are starting to respect us, but more importantly the kids are believing in themselves. When they believe in themselves, they’re able to go out and play a tough game against a good team like Sehome,” Quesada said.
The Friday game at Mount Baker begins at 4:30 p.m.