Chris Knudson can only wonder "what if?" about both of his North Thurston boys soccer team's losses.
At 4-2-1 overall, the Rams’ two losses were via shootout – a 2-1 (5-4 shootout) loss to Aberdeen in the season opener, and an epic 1-0 (15-14 shootout) loss to Centralia last Thursday at South Sound Stadium.
Two losses with a goal differential of zero; potentially two shots away from being 6-0-1.
Discouraged? Not Knudson.
“I feel like we have something to build on,” said Knudson, in his fourth season as coach of the Rams.
Last week’s jaw-dropping result to the league-leading Tigers was especially heart-breaking. The shootout lasted more than one-half hour, and featured 30 shooters, including both goalkeepers, Gervin Cali-Escobar (Centralia) and Forrest Graeber (North Thurston). The 15-14 shootout result was thought to be a record for most shots in a shootout in Thurston County. Knudson said his team had a few missed opportunities to put the ball away, but controlled the game in the second half.
“I’ve never been part of a game that the goalkeeper had to shoot,” Knudson said. “That’s definitely the furthest it has gone that I’ve been a part of. Even though we lost, it was a lot of fun. It was incredibly nerve-wracking. I was proud of the boys to stay with it.”
In seven games, North Thurston has had three shootouts. The Rams defeated Timberline, 4-3 (4-3 shootout) on March 22 after trailing by two goals twice in regulation.
Senior midfielder Zack Ismael leads the team with seven goals, including a hat trick against Chehalis on March 24. Last season, he had eight goals and six assists on a team that finished 7-8 overall and ended its season in a subdistrict playoff loss in a shootout to North Kitsap.
After 10 days between games, North Thurston, which is third in the EvCo standings behind Centralia and Aberdeen, resumes its season Monday against River Ridge, followed by the start of the second half of league play Wednesday at home against Aberdeen.
“I’m happy with where we are,” Knudson said.
NO RAINOUTS FOR NORTHWEST CHRISTIAN
A little bit of luxury – and luck – has helped Northwest Christian’s baseball team avoid rainouts so far this season. The Navigators (5-3) play their home games at Skyhawks Park, and play on the turf fields, if needed. NWC resumes its season Monday at home against Oakville.
“We’re a young team, but I like the progress we’re making,” first-year Navigators coach Damon Ford said.
Last Friday, junior pitcher Nick Mailhot gave NWC its first no-hitter since 2008 when he struck out 11 batters in an 11-0 win over Lake Quinault. Mailhot improved his record to 2-1 on the mound, and also went 1-for-3 with four RBI against the Elks. Nathan Burres was the last NWC pitcher to throw a no-hitter, striking out 14 in a 14-0 win over Naselle on May 2, 2008.
Although Northwest Christian has already played eight games, the March 31 game against Taholah was canceled when the Chitwins called off their season because of injuries and academic issues. To fill the void, Ford said he hopes to schedule a game with another team in late-April.
Black Hills coach Lem Elway puts together the annual state baseball rankings on his website www.washingtonbaseballpoll.com, and four South Sound teams are ranked in the top 10 in their classifications. Chehalis, the defending 2A state champion, is still unbeaten and debuted at No. 1 in 2A; Rochester and Tenino are Nos. 3 and 7 in 1A, respectively, and Capital comes in at No. 10 in 3A. The Warriors of Rochester currently are atop the Southwest Washington 1A Evergreen standings (6-1 overall, 5-0 league) and are led by senior Chris Bishop, who is batting .652 with 15 hits and 17 RBI through seven games.
THIS AND THAT
Because of the rain and postponements last week, the Black Hills baseball team will have a rare league/nonleague doubleheader today at home. At noon, Black Hills takes on River Ridge in the first game of a home-and-home series, followed by a nonleague game against Lynden at 4 p.m. Gabe Padukiewicz, one of three Olympia baseball players coming off ACL tears, had his second multi-hit game Wednesday in a 6-3 victory over Stadium. Padukiewicz, who tore his ACL in the fall, went 2-for-3 with a double. Olympia (5-4) hosts Chehalis at 4 p.m. today. The Olympia girls 400-meters relay team of Tayler Fettig, Taylor Fiskness, Alexis Fesenbek and Nicole Dandridge have the state’s best all-classification time of 50.05 seconds.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 email@example.com theolympian.com/prepsportsblog