LACEY - On a night when North Thurston High School honored its most accomplished soccer player, the Rams also treated the crowd to quite a show.
After trailing by two goals twice, North Thurston tied the score late in regulation, then won on penalty kicks for a 4-3 nonleague boys soccer victory over Timberline at South Sound Stadium on Tuesday night.
Prior to the game, North Thurston retired Kasey Keller’s No. 18 high school jersey, and honored former Timberline goalkeeper and current Seattle Sounders goalkeeper coach, Tom Dutra, who was inducted into Timberline’s hall of fame Saturday.
Keller didn’t lose many games in a Rams uniform, and was a prep All-American at North Thurston, graduating in 1988. He is in his third and final season with the Sounders, and he announced in December he will retire from a 20-year professional soccer career following the 2011 season.
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Saint Martin’s men’s and women’s soccer coach Rob Walker introduced Keller and Dutra, who served as honorary game captains. Keller’s Rams jersey, along with a replica of his Sounders jersey, will be displayed in the school’s trophy case.
“It’s a huge honor,” Keller said. “I had a lot of fond memories of my time at North Thurston. I played a lot of my club ball in Federal Way, and it was a chance to play with my friends. We had a good time, and we had a good team.”
After graduating from North Thurston, Keller starred at the University of Portland (1988-91), where he was a two-time All-American. In 20 seasons of professional soccer, he was named to four U.S. World Cup teams, was a three-time U.S. soccer athlete of the year and a two-time MLS All-Star. He was a pioneer overseas, becoming the first American goalie to be a regular in the top leagues in England, Spain and Germany.
“You hope to get the chance to play, do well, and make it last as long as you can,” said the 41-year-old Keller. “To be able to come home and play for the Sounders, and come home and finish my career here, you just can’t write that stuff.”
Keller is the second North Thurston athlete to have his jersey retired, and third person to be recognized by the high school. Mike Sellers, who graduated from North Thurston in 1993 and is now a fullback for the Washington Redskins, had his No. 44 football jersey retired in 2008.
In 2001, North Thurston named the football field at South Sound Stadium after the late Jim Fouts, who coached and taught at the school for 37 years.
RAMS RALLY FOR WIN
The Blazers built leads of 2-0 and 3-1 before the Rams stormed back in the second half. Midfielder Kenny Heo’s header into the right side of the net tied the game at 3 in the 77th minute.
On the seventh shot of the penalty kicks, Rams goalkeeper Forrest Graeber made a diving save on Xavier Wurttele’s attempt, and Zack Ismael’s goal sealed the win for the Rams, who improve to 2-1-0.
Tim Dzubay scored a goal in each half and helped the Blazers seize the upper-hand for the majority of the first half.
Timberline got first-half goals seven minutes apart – Dzubay in the 22nd minute and Pavel Ceban in the 29th.
Dzubay scored on a penalty kick following a handball in the box, and Ceban followed up his goal with a breakaway shot that drilled the back of the goal. But in the final 40 seconds of the first half, Nick Salazar put the Rams on the board with an open shot from 15 yards out.
Dzubay gave the Blazers a two-goal cushion again in the 48th minute with his second goal, boosting the Blazers’ lead to 3-1.
North Thurston took the momentum away from Timberline shortly after Dzubay’s goal.
Ismael eluded a Timberline defender with nifty footwork and scored in the 55th minute, pulling North Thurston to 3-2, and Heo followed with the tying goal in the 77th minute.
The Blazers’ final nonleague game is Friday at Tumwater, while North Thurston resumes 2A Evergreen Conference play against Chehalis on Thursday.