LACEY - If the North Thurston boys soccer team makes the playoffs in a few weeks, shootouts will be one thing the Rams will have plenty of expertise in.
After the Rams’ 2-1 (4-2 shootout) loss to Aberdeen on Wednesday night at South Sound Stadium, North Thurston has now played in four shootouts through nine games. At 5-3-1 overall, all of North Thurston’s losses have been shootouts – 2-1 (5-4 shootout) loss to Aberdeen in the season-opener, 1-0 (15-14 shootout) to Centralia, and Tuesday’s loss to the Bobcats.
The Rams topped Timberline, 4-3 (4-3 shootout), on March 22.
“Maybe it will pay off in the long run,” North Thurston coach Chris Knudson said. “We certainly have had a lot of practice at it, that’s for sure.”
Aberdeen (8-1) has a two-game lead over North Thurston for second place in the Class 2A Evergreen Conference, as Wednesday’s game was the start of the second half of league play for both teams.
It looked to be North Thurston’s game early in the opening 15 minutes. Kenny Heo scored the game’s first goal in the 11th minute on a shot from 10 yards out. The sophomore fired a shot after receiving a cross pass from Joey Renaud on a play that started up the left side of the field on a play by Zack Ismael.
Aberdeen countered in the 23rd minute when Juan Lopez scored from 20 yards out on a breakaway with two Rams defenders around him.
An aggressive North Thurston offense couldn’t benefit from a trio of shots on goal in the second half, some launched as close as 5 yards from the goal. Aberdeen had three shots in the second half, but the Bobcats were held in check for the most part.
“The problem was once we got into their defensive third, we got shut down,” Knudson said. “We couldn’t get anything to happen in their box.”
After two scoreless overtime periods, the goalkeepers came up clutch in the shootout.
Aberdeen goalkeeper Gilberto Martinez stopped the Rams’ first shot, and after two consecutive goals by each team, North Thurston goalkeeper Forrest Graeber blocked Ruben Ramirez’s shot.
After a North Thurston miss, Caleb Phillips ended the game with his goal.
The shootout also was the second in the past three games for the Rams.
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473 firstname.lastname@example.org