Despite controlling the game’s flow from the opening whistle, the Olympia boys soccer team found itself tied late in the contest.
Seniors Jayce Kemp and Connor Desmond made sure this would not be their last high school match.
The Bears scored twice in the final three minutes, getting late goals from Kemp and Desmond, to defeat Kentwood, 3-1, in the opening round of the 4A West Central District tournament at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on Tuesday night.
“Our seniors stepped up,” Olympia coach Ty Johnson said. “They want to keep playing.”
The Bears (9-5-3) advance to play Curtis at University Place on Thursday.
Kentwood’s season ends with a record of 7-7-3.
“It’s been a while since the program has won a playoff game,” Johnson said. “I am very happy with how we played tonight. Hopefully we can keep this going. I think we are peaking at the right time.”
A victory over the Vikings would assure Olympia one of the six state playoff berths the district receives.
Neil Boyal opened up the scoring for the Bears with his goal in the third minute.
Trailing 1-0, Kentwood, runner-up in the 4A South Puget Sound League Northeast Division, got the equalizer on Mason Rudolph’s goal in the 64th minute.
The match appeared headed toward overtime before Kemp jumped over several Conquerors and headed in a goal off a corner kick with just over two minutes remaining in the match.
“That’s a big time goal from a senior,” Johnson said. “You need that this time of year from your upperclassmen.
Desmond added Olympia’s third goal a minute later, securing the Bears’ place into the next round.
Olympia controlled the pace of the match and most of the possessions in the first half, logging six shots on goal to Kentwood’s none, and holding a 5-0 advantage in corner kicks to register a 1-0 lead at the intermission.
When the Bears weren’t dictating the first-half flow against the Conquerors, they extinguished every potential — albeit few — quality scoring chances the Conquerors tried to generate in the opening half with a suffocating defensive performance.
Olympia needed just three minutes into the contest to grab the lead as Boyal found the back of the net following a perfectly-place corner kick from Chris Sutton, which landed a few feet in front of the right post where a waiting Boyal tapped it in.
The Bears, who had three corner kicks within the opening seven minutes, used pressure to add to their advantage. Despite having a fair share of scoring opportunities, including a similar corner kick by Sutton that dangerously streaked in front of the goal before Kentwood goalkeeper Sahr Moiwo punched the ball out of harm’s way.
3A West Central/Southwest bi-district
North Thurston 3, Auburn 2: The Rams (5-10-1) beat the Trojans to advance and North Thurston will face Sumner at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Auburn Memorial Stadium.
2A District IV
Aberdeen 4, Tumwater 0: The Bobcats, playing their first season as a 2A independent, scored two goals by Isaiah Contreras and Miguel Torres in the first 15 minutes on their way to a shutout of the Thunderbirds in a loser-out consolation game at Tumwater District Stadium. The T-Birds end their season at 4-13-1.
Black Hills 4, Centralia 1: Casey Duff scored two goals — his 27th and 28th on the season — in the 10th and 51st minutes to help keep the Wolves alive in the consolation bracket of the 2A District IV tournament.
Black Hills (7-7-3) faces the loser of Tuesday’s Ridgefield/Washougal game Thursday in Tumwater.