The Blue Jays will be in the third-place game Friday at the Pacific tournament.
After a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Rolla (1-1) Tuesday, Washington (2-2) took a 2-0 loss against Eureka (2-1) Thursday in the semifinals.
Eureka drubbed Warrenton in the opening round, 10-0, in order to reach the semifinals. The win for the Wildcats sets up a rematch of last season’s tournament championship between Eureka and Wentzville Liberty.
Rolla didn’t hold the lead for long in the first-round contest.
Jarrett Gabriele opened the scoring in the 23rd minute off a free kick pass from Gabe Stanislawski that managed to get through the Blue Jays’ defense untouched.
However, Washington’s leading scorer Michael Andrews broke through the Rolla defense on a long run just two minutes later and beat the goalkeeper one-on-one to notch the equalizer.
The score remained deadlocked at the intermission.
“I told the guys here that it takes something to win a game when you’re not playing your best,” Washington Head Coach Derek Schreiwer said. “I don’t think we played our best and somehow won and that’s no slack to Rolla. I just think the moments arose and we capitalized on them. They had plenty of shots on goal and Ottmar (Escalante) was up for all of them. Ottmar had an incredible game back there. The goal they scored was honestly a fluke. It was a lapse on our part and it bounces through on a free kick untouched. I said, ‘Guys, we can correct that,’ and we corrected it in the second half.”
It wasn’t until the 61st minute that Washington capitalized on a Rolla mistake to take the lead. In a play similar to last fall’s state quarterfinal round against Webster Groves, the Bulldogs were whistled for an illegal pass reception by the keeper near the top of the box.
Andrews stepped up to take the resulting free kick and completed a brace when the referee gave him the green light while Rolla was slow in setting up its defense on the play.
“There’s always a situation and you have to capitalize on your opportunities in soccer,” Schriewer said. “If we didn’t learn from that last year, we certainly showed it today. I was yelling out to Mike to grab that ball and he looked over at the referee and she said ‘Go.’ He took the shot and tucked it in the net. (A) kid was standing in the way and Mike found a way by him. They wanted to complain about it, but we were on top of the ball and sharp in our minds when the moment arose and obviously we capitalized on it.”
The Washington defense then held off a frantic Rolla attack for the final 19 minutes, highlighted by senior Zach Subke’s sliding block that denied Rolla a one-on-one shot against the Washington goalkeeper, Escalante, in the final minutes.
“If he doesn’t get there, that ball’s in the back of the net,” Schriewer said. “That was their best player in a goal-scoring opportunity. It’s a big moment.”
Subke also cleared out the ensuing corner kick, taking away Rolla’s last best chance to get an equalizer.
Escalante was 11-12 in save chances in the contest.
The Wildcats scored both of their goals in the second half to get by Washington into the finals.
“We had held them pretty tight to only a few chances outside the (18-yard box) for most of the first half,” Schriewer said. “(We) had a corner with less than five to play in the first half, but weren’t able to find the back of the net between Subke and Mike. But 0-0 at half versus a Class 4 school is never a bad situation.”
Gus Mantia struck first for Eureka with what proved to be the game-winning goal.
Anthony Nicoletti followed up with an insurance goal.
Ethan Valenti was credited with an assist.
Zach Martin recorded a shutout in the net, stopping both of the Blue Jays’ two shots on goal.
Escalante made 13 saves for the Blue Jays.
Washington next matches up with Windsor (2-3) Friday at 5:45 p.m. in the tournament’s final round.