LACEY – It was beginning to feel like another missed opportunity.
Capital again was struggling to convert its scoring chances against a Timberline Blazers boys soccer team that has forced five shootouts this season.
But unlike in their April 17 league-opening loss at Yelm, the Cougars didn’t let the possibility of another win disappear Friday night. Sophomore Jeffrey Tran and freshman Bryce Joling scored in the 67th and 69th minutes, respectively, to help Capital to a 3-0 Class 3A Western Cascade Conference win at South Sound Stadium.
“It was really important to come out and get the win,” Capital coach Devin Proctor said. “We had plenty of chances, and we just couldn’t finish before we finally broke through at the end.”
Timberline (4-7 overall) was forced to replace goalkeeper Jorge Franco in the 13th minute after he suffered a gash on his face. Franco, who returned about 20 minutes later, was replaced by Peter Rodelo, and the Cougars (8-3-1, 1-1) quickly took advantage. Joling, a midfielder, put a shot high into the right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead.
“I think it just went through his hands and into the top of the net,” Joling said.
Capital had another half-dozen scoring opportunities that were saved by Rodelo and Franco. Tran had an open shot in the 43rd but hit it directly at Franco.
“He’s been struggling a lot to finish, but he really came through at the end,” Proctor said.
Perhaps the Blazers’ best scoring opportunity came in the 48th, when goalkeeper Keean Joling made a diving save on a shot by Gio Torres and made a quick recovery to stop a rebound opportunity.
From there, Bryce Joling said his teammates understood how important it was to take advantage of scoring opportunities.
“You never want to go 0-2,” he said. “That’s a terrible way to start the season.”
Proctor said the final margin could help in a tiebreaker to determine playoff seeding.
“It’s important that we get these 3-0 wins because Yelm’s putting up a lot of points,” he said. “They’re pushing a lot of goals into the back of the net.”
The Cougars have a rematch Friday at Yelm but first play North Thurston at 7 p.m. Tuesday at South Sound Stadium.
“I told them we can’t look past Thurston,” said Proctor, noting that only the top two teams in the league advance to the playoffs.
That doesn’t mean he isn’t excited about playing Yelm again with the possibility of a league title being at stake.
“I think we’re showing that we’re the top two teams,” he said. “Now we have to fight it out.”