OLYMPIA – In what seemed like only a matter of seconds, the Capital Cougars’ shot at a victory suddenly was doomed.
The Cougars were down, 2-1, for most of their Class 3A West Central District III winner-to-state boys soccer game against the Evergreen Wolverines on Saturday at Ingersoll Stadium.
The Cougars were desperately trying to find the back of the net down the stretch. When Capital finally tied the score at 2-all in the 74th minute, it looked as though the game would go into overtime, and perhaps to a shootout.
But the tie score would be short-lived, and the end result was in Evergreen’s favor.
With two minutes remaining in regulation time, Evergreen defender Christian Vasquez deflected an incoming shot and floated the ball over Capital goalkeeper Keean Joling’s head and into the back of the net for the winning goal in the Wolverines’ 3-2 upset of the Cougars.
The loss ends Capital’s season – one win away from its second consecutive state berth.
Evergreen, of White Center, earned its first state berth since 2005 and will begin state tournament play Tuesday night against Shorecrest, one of the top teams in Class 3A.
“We didn’t play that well,” Capital coach Devin Proctor said. “You can’t give up three goals and expect to win.”
Capital, the No. 1 seed from the Western Cascade Conference, hadn’t given up three goals in a game since its 3-0 loss to White River in its first game of the season.
The Cougars didn’t give Evergreen many opportunities to score Saturday, but the Wolverines took advantage of the few chances they did get.
Evergreen, the No. 7 team from the SPSL/Seamount crossover, scored its first two goals in a minute-and-a-half span of the first half.
Ruanni Franco Ramirez tied the game, 1-1, in the 13th minute on a penalty kick when he drilled the ball past Bryce Joling, Keean’s younger brother.
Prior to the penalty kick, Proctor switched out Keean for Bryce in the goal box.
“Bryce is very good at PKs,” Proctor said. “He’s the guy on the PKs usually for us.”
The next goal came a minute later as Israel Robles fired a shot from 20 yards out on the left side, and the ball found the right side of the goal to give Evergreen the 2-1 lead, which held up until halftime.
“I thought we had it before (Capital) scored (in the 74th minute),” Evergreen coach Omar Lara said. “I really thought it would end up 2-1, but I knew (Capital) would never stop fighting all the way until the end. The last 10 minutes, they really put the pressure on us.”
Bryce Joling tied the score, 2-2, in the 74th minute when he headed the ball into the left side of the goal off Nate Boatright’s free kick. That was the second free kick by Boatright in a four-minute span and his third of the game.
“I was proud of the way the guys fought back to tie the score,” Proctor said. “I thought it would be enough to get into overtime and possibly (a shootout).”
Boatright’s first free kick led to Capital’s first goal, by Kevin Tabbutt at the nine-minute mark. Tabbutt headed the ball off an Evergreen defender and into the goal to give the Cougars a quick, 1-0 lead.
After the game, Proctor praised his team for its season – a WCC championship and a No. 1 seed in the district tournament. In the past three seasons, Capital has been the No. 1 seed into the district tournament each year and has won three consecutive league titles.
“You can’t ask for anything more than that,” Proctor said. “Except for another goal.”
Meg Wochnick: 360-754-5473