SHELTON — The most distinctive head on the field rose above the scrum in front of the goal, and just like that Shelton was alive.
In a jump-ball situation, senior defender Jonathan McCullough and his white do-rag headed in a corner kick from freshman Jose Flores into the goal late in the second half to salvage a 1-1 draw against Timberline on Wednesday in 3A Narrows League boys soccer at Highclimber Stadium.
The outcome left Shelton (6-2-2 overall, 5-1-2 Narrows) solidly in the mix for a playoff spot and still in contention for the league crown with three league games remaining.
“A tie doesn’t really hurt us,” Shelton coach Isaiah Herrera said, “but for us, tying is losing.”
Timberline’s Matt Lamfers, a freshman midfielder of Lithuanian heritage, tallied the only goal of the first half when he found himself alone by way of a pass from senior midfielder Alec Davies, 20 yards from an empty goal. Lamfers punched it in at the 5:20 mark.
Thereafter, the Blazers never allowed Shelton to find its footing until McCullough’s timely header.
“That’s one of the better games we’ve played,” said Timberline coach Mark Tate. “I was really happy with the atmosphere of our team tonight.”
The Blazers (3-9-1, 2-6-1 Narrows) are still in contention for the fourth 3A Narrows slot in the postseason.
“The fact that we can compete with these guys,” Tate said, nodding toward the Shelton side, “hopefully that will give our guys some confidence.”
Before Lamfers’ first-half goal, the most serious scoring threats had mostly been Shelton’s. At 31:55, sophomore midfielder Jorge Vasquez centered the ball to senior forward Jesus Nunez, whose header sailed inches over the goal post.
Junior forward Juan Vega had a look from 15 yards at 17:00, but Blazers goalkeeper Thadeus Lasko made a sure save. Lasko smothered a shot from 30 yards by Francisco Mendolia-Lopez, and took care of a try by Mackenzie Deacon at 4:20.
Timberline missed an early opportunity at 28:00, when Jesus Ramos sailed it high from point-blank range and nothing but goal in front of him.
In the second half, Shelton was the aggressor but had nothing to show for it until nearly the end.
“We’re a team that scores early,” Herrera said. “When we don’t, we get down on ourselves.
“We were able to adjust to Coach Tate’s defense and put the pressure on them, and that created more opportunities in the attack.”
Shelton visits North Thurston on Friday, takes on Foss on May 6 at Mount Tahoma Stadium, then closes 3A Narrows play May 8 with a home game against Wilson, which led the league heading into Wednesday play.
Timberline, closely bunched with Mount Tahoma and North Thurston in the hunt for the last Narrows playoff spot, finishes its league schedule with games at Lincoln on May 6, at Mount Tahoma on May 8, and at Stadium Bowl on May 12 against Wilson.