Scoring once in each half, the Washington soccer Blue Jays earned their first-ever berth in the MSHSAA Class 3 soccer semifinals at Scanlan Stadium.
Washington (24-8) knocked out North County (22-4), 2-0, in the quarterfinal game Saturday evening in Washington.
“These boys have matured over the season and have become quite a unit,” Washington Head Coach Derek Schriewer said. “They’re very tough to break down defensively and have enough explosion on the offensive end that we can cause problems for teams.”
Washington attacked the North County net right off the opening kickoff, something Schriewer said was designed.
“Typically, we like to test the back line right away and seeing what they have on the driven balls,” Schriewer said. “I was interviewed at halftime and they said it looks like we just like to kick the ball up there. I told them if they wanted to think that, it’s fine, but we can hold the ball up, too. In the second half, we started showing that.”
Play stabilized and both teams had offensive chances. Washington’s junior goalkeeper, Ottmar Escalante, came up big to keep the game scoreless.
“They varied up their attack and tried to test him in a lot of different ways,” Schriewer said. “They tested him from 40, they linked play and tried to slide balls into the box. He was getting out and smothering the ball. He’s proving to be an amazing asset for us this year. I’m really glad he moved to Missouri and is part of our team.”
The Blue Jays finally struck in the 28th minute
Taking a cross from senior Trent Lewis, junior Michael Andrews headed the pass into the North County net past goalkeeper Andrew Forney with 12:56 to play in the half.
“To be honest, I have done that throughout the season and these past three games I’ve been putting them in off headers,” Andrews said. “It was textbook. We knew if we could get it in the air, I was tall enough to get there and put it in.”
Schriewer said Washington sent three players who are strong in the air into the box on that play.
“Trent served that one in,” Schriewer said. “Miah (Jeremiah Collins) was in the box with them. We went with Miah, (Zach) Harms and Mike going into that run. I think that was the difference maker. They had to figure who was marking who. Ultimately, Mike is pretty hard to handle and he made the most of it.”
That score held up until the second half. In the 54th minute, Washington senior forward Conlan Jarvis was brought down in the box on the east end of Scanlan Stadium.
Junior defender Jeremiah Collins calmly stepped up to the spot and buried the ball in the back of the goal to give Washington a two-goal advantage.
“That’s big,” Jarvis said. “I knew he was on my back and fouling me. I was trying to play through the contact and couldn’t. It was a hard foul. Jeremiah did a great job finishing it for us to put us up 2-0.”
Schriewer felt the penalty kick goal was a massive lift for the team.
“That’s when we were able to settle in and possess,” Schriewer said. “Once we got the two-goal lead, they settled in and really started to find each other’s feet. They definitely know what to do in those situations.”
Senior midfielder Matt Ruth, one of the captains, agreed.
“That was extremely important because it gave us the cushion we needed and I guarantee that played really bad psychologically for the other team,” Ruth said. “Hat’s off to them though, they played a heck of a game the whole time.”
Down the stretch, the Raiders tried to test Escalantate, but he was up to the challenge by stopping or deflecting every shot which made it past the defense.
“It took a collective team effort because they had six guys with over 10 goals and they’re just really good with their one- and two-touch passing,” Harms said. “They’re just going around us. We were clearing the ball and talking. That was the big thing, talking.”
Washington did the same thing on the other end, getting the ball to Jarvis, junior Zach Subke and others for runs through the middle to eat up time and give Washington the win.
Schriewer felt playing at home was another big edge for the Blue Jays.
“That was a difference maker,” he said. “They got here at 3:30 p.m. They had to try to predict the bus time and how long it would take to get here. I think that all just adds in to these young guys and how they perform sometimes.”