After a rough regular season, the Tumwater boys soccer team is taking some momentum into the playoffs.
The Thunderbirds capped the regular season by defeating Class 2A Evergreen Conference champion Black Hills, 3-0 on penalty kicks for a 2-1 win at Tumwater District Stadium on Tuesday.
With the win, Tumwater wraps up the No. 2 seed to the 2A District 4 tournament.
“Experience-wise we entered this season a very young team,” T-Birds coach Brett Bartlett said. “We graduated 17 seniors from last year’s team and only had six players coming back with varsity experience, and really only one had a lot of playing time last year. We didn’t score a goal our first six games. So it took a while, but these guys just continue to improve.”
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Both squads will continue on to postseason play as each earned berths into the 2A District 4 tournament, which begins Saturday.
Black Hills (6-6-3, 5-1 2A Evergreen Conference) had already wrapped up the conference title prior to playing the T-Birds and will open the district playoffs by hosting the fourth seed out of the 2A Greater Saint Helens League.
Tumwater (4-11-1, 3-3) will play a home game against the GHSL’s No. 3 seed.
After two scoreless 5-minute overtime sessions, the T-Birds got successful penalty kicks from Dane Brizzolara, Pedro Pena Zorzano and Parker Lemas, who made the T-Birds a perfect 3 for 3 on penalty kicks.
Tumwater’s Brogan Lesh replaced starting goalkeeper Ryan Dow-Murrey for the penalty kicks, and proceeded to make one save while watching two other Wolves kicks sail over the crossbar en route to the victory.
Black Hills didn’t waste much time asserting itself, breaking through in the fourth minute when Thomas Sayler headed in Derick Cutler’s corner kick.
It was the only time the Wolves cracked the Tumwater defense in the first half and, save for a Casey Duff shot on goal in the 33rd minute, Black Hills failed to generate any more quality scoring chances the rest of the way.
The Wolves held the slim 1-0 advantage at the break thanks in large part to goalkeeper Brock Leeper, who anchored a strong defensive effort by registering six saves in the first half.
The T-Birds’ best opportunity came midway through the half when Blake Lesh took a cross from Keegan Fields 10 yards out near the left post and fired a shot that was out of Leeper’s reach.
Tumwater remained scoreless, however, after Brycen Armstrong batted away the blast at the last moment.
The T-Birds continued to dictate the pace following the intermission and had a trio of corner kicks during the first 10 minutes of the second half with the third one being the equalizer.