Olympia — Capital High School boys soccer coach Kyle Jones will be the first to tell you his Cougars won’t score an obscene number of goals this season.
But success might not require too many goals, given the way freshman goalkeeper Van Soderberg and the Cougars’ defense have been playing.
Soderberg posted his third shutout of the season, Aidan Klemmer and Karl Stout each scored a goal, and Capital downed visiting River Ridge, 2-0, in a 2A Evergreen Conference boys soccer match Thursday night at Ingersoll Stadium.
“The way we defend,” Jones said, “is going to decide a lot of games for us this year.”
The Cougars, who improved to 3-2 overall and 3-1 in EvCo play, didn’t allow much of anything in terms of offensive opportunities in the second half for the Hawks (1-3, 1-3) while they dictated the pace.
“We haven’t played much together,” Soderberg said about the new-look Cougars, who return just two starters from last season’s state playoff team, “but we communicate well out there and are starting to get more comfortable with each other the more we play.”
Soderberg also pitched shutouts against Tumwater (4-0) and Black Hills (2-0), and surrendered just one goal during regulation in the Cougars’ 2-1 shootout loss at Centralia.
“He’s just an athletic kid,” Jones said. “He’s extremely coachable and has improved every game.”
After a scoreless first half, Klemmer put the Cougars in front in the 46th minute, beating River Ridge goalkeeper Payton White from the left side of the box.
“It was kind of a flat first half for us,” Jones said. “We talked at the (halftime break) about attacking from the midfield, and the guys went out there and did just that on our first goal.”
Stout added to Capital’s total in the 54th minute, finding the back of the net on a shot from 8 yards out to put the Cougars up 2-0.
Stout, a junior, narrowly missed his second goal after sending a shot from 15 yards out just inches right of the goal in the 70th minute.
As it turned out, a third goal was not necessary because the Cougars controlled possession for the majority of the second half.
River Ridge’s Zach McGill created the first dangerous chance of the game in the 19th minute, taking a corner kick and heading a shot to the left side of the goal that Soderberg turned away at the last moment.
It was one of five stops in the first half for Soderberg. He finished the match with eight saves.
White was equally impressive in the first half, snagging five saves of his own in the opening 40 minutes, the most dramatic of which came with 10 seconds remaining before halftime when Kellen O’Neill blasted a shot directly in front of the net.