Is there such a thing as being too open?
The thought briefly popped into Neil Boyal’s head before the Olympia junior punched in the eventual game winner.
Boyal scored early in the first half and the Bears, despite missing a handful of starters, rode its usual stingy defense to a 1-0 victory over Timberline in Narrows League 4A boys soccer play at South Sound Stadium on Thursday.
“We were missing some pieces today,” Olympia coach Ty Johnson said, “but anytime you can pick up a shutout in this league, it’s a good day.”
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The Bears, 3-1-1 overall, improved their league mark to 2-0 with the victory.
Olympia was missing injured midfielders Chris Sutton and Tobin Feldman-Fitzthum, and lost Collin Labranche midway through the second half when he collided with Timberline goalkeeper Jaelen Bush.
“You don’t want to play without them, but it does show how much depth we have this year,” Boyal said. “Guys were asked to step up and they did. If you want to win a state championship, you need depth.”
The Bears broke through in the 14th minute after Boyal scored on an assist from Duncan Pidone.
The goal came after Pidone secured a loose ball that appeared headed out, but lost momentum inches before crossing the endline.
“It was kind of strange. The ball just sat there,” Boyal said. “I think everyone thought it was going out.”
A quick centering pass from Pidone found Boyal waiting alone directly in front of the goal box. That’s when Boyal started to dissect the situation.
“I was worried something was wrong. It was almost too easy,” Boyal said. “Then once I got the ball I was stressing I was going to miss the goal.”
Boyal unleashed a blast by Timberline goalie Christian Otero and into the lower corner of the net to put the Bears on the scoreboard.
“We told the team we needed to get behind their back line if we wanted to score,” Johnson said. “That’s exactly how it set up on our goal. Duncan made a great pass and Neil was right there to knock it in.”
Outside an early corner kick in the second minute, which harmlessly deflected off an Olympia defender, Timberline’s offense was nonexistent during a first half controlled by the Bears.
Olympia applied offensive pressure throughout the first half — the Bears had five corner kicks in the opening 20 minutes of play — but was unable to add to its advantage and had to settle for a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
The Blazers (1-2-1, 1-2) became more aggressive on offense in the second half, but could not manage to find the back of the net.
Like they have all season, the Bears used goalie Davin Johnson in the first half and Brandon Pruett in the second. The duo combined to give Olympia consecutive shutouts as the squad also blanked Tumwater 6-0 in its previous match on March 23.
“I am confident in both of them being in there,” Ty Johnson said about his two gifted seniors. “Davin was the first-team all-league goalie last year and Brandon was second-team all-league. They’re both great players.”
Timberline also platooned its goalkeepers, with Otero notching a save in the first half and Bush registering three in the second.
The Blazers’ best chance at finding the equalizer came during extended play when Drew Amburgy fired a shot from 10 yards out that missed its mark and sailed over the crossbar.
The match marked the first league meeting between the two squads since 1988 when they were both members of the Black Hills League. Timberline bumped up to the 4A classification (then known as AAA) the following year and had not been in the same league with Olympia until the Blazers rejoined the Narrows League 4A this year.
The two teams will meet again in the regular season at Ingersoll Stadium on April 28.