It’s not exactly uncharted territory, but it’s new to the Washington soccer Blue Jays.
Washington qualified for its first boys soccer state tournament Saturday, beating North County in the Class 3 quarterfinals at Scanlan Stadium, 2-0.
“I won’t pull them down and let them ride out this week like they’re on top of the world,” Washington Head Coach Derek Schriewer said. “I want to see if that’s a mindset that will get us through to the final. I think that’s the key. You’ve got to believe in yourself. Why get down if you can get ready from the top?”
The Blue Jays (24-8) had never advanced beyond the district level until last season. This marks the first time Washington has progressed past the sectional level.
“It feels great,” junior forward Michael Andrews said. “Honestly, it’s crazy. To bring this town to state and the final four is really something special. It shows that boys soccer is not something to look past.”
Senior midfielder Matt Ruth knew this run was possible at the beginning of the year if the team played up to its potential.
“It feels pretty amazing,” Ruth said. “We’re pretty excited. Coming into this season, we knew we had a team that Washington had never seen before. We’re glad we were able to capitalize on all of our opportunities.”
Schriewer said last year’s run played a big part in preparing for this season.
“That was a huge part of it,” Schriewer said. “On Tuesday, we talked about how we have been in a sectional and Webster Groves had lost in their district final last year to Rockwood Summit. We were the team that was familiar with that round. North County came tonight for the quarterfinal and they were at this round last year. The question of experience came into play again and we were able to overcome it.”
New seems to be the common theme among this year’s semifinalists. There are no returning teams from last season and none moved much beyond the district level last year. Washington is the only team that won a district championship last season.
“It feels great,” Washington senior forward Conlan Jarvis said. “Before the beginning of the season, we had a couple of guys (Jeremiah Collins and Ottmar Escalante) try out who hadn’t played high school soccer here before. We were really excited for that. We knew this was a possibility. We started the year slow and ever since we’ve been clicking. Even though we’ve had our rough spots, we’ve been continuously improving and it’s been showing. It feels great.”
Senior defender Zach Harms said the job isn’t done yet.
“We’ve got to keep working hard and preparing,” Harms said. “We’ve got to be ready for whatever comes for us.”
While Washington doesn’t know much about playing in the state tournament, it does know all about the state championship venue, the World Wide Technology Soccer Park in Fenton. That venue has had several names over the years, but many of the Blue Jays have played there either for Washington or in club ball.
The Blue Jays faced Wentzville Liberty in the CYC Tournament championship match earlier this season.
“Our spirits are high right now,” Andrews said. “We’re going to have to come together as a team and practice. We know it won’t be easy. There will be challenges and we’re going to have to keep going over them. For now, we have to keep our heads high and know we can do this if we can put our heads to it.”
The Blue Jays face Harrisonville at noon Friday in the first Class 3 semifinal.
Harrisonville comes into the game with a 25-3 record after beating Kansas City East, 2-1, in the quarterfinals.
The Wildcats beat Marshall in the sectional round after winning the Class 3 District 14 title over Belton, 2-0.
Not much is known about Harrisonville. Connor Blentlinger scored the lone goal in the win over Marshall and Harrisonville outshot the Owls in that game, 16-4.
From sources in Marshall, Blentlinger and Seth Wiebusch are the team’s top forwards and another strength is goalkeeper Brody Pitts.
The Wildcats aren’t afraid to shoot from anywhere on the field.
The other Friday semifinal pits Parkway Central (19-8-1) against Republic (23-4) at 2 p.m.
Parkway Central defeated GAC Central team Ft. Zumwalt South in the quarterfinals, 2-1 in the second overtime. The Colts beat Ladue in the sectional round, 3-0, and won the Class 3 District 5 title over Parkway West on penalty kicks, 2-1.
Parkway Central opened its season by losing its first three games. Since the early part of the season, the Colts have been all about redemption. The 3-0 win over Ladue reversed a 4-0 loss to that team Sept. 6.
Blake Siegel has been Parkway Central’s top goalie, going 12-6 with a 1.28 GAA.
Adam Burnett is the team’s top scorer with 19 goals and 11 assists for 49 points.
Will Peacock has netted 13 goals. Cam Dunne is next with nine goals and Cameron Baird has scored seven time.
Dunne is second in assists with eight. Baird has posted seven and Matthew Deay has six assists.
Republic defeated Glendale, 2-1, in the quarterfinals and knocked out Neosho in the sectional round, 5-2. Republic was the Class 3 District 11 winner over Carthage, 3-2 in one overtime. Carthage was the state runner-up last year.
Against Glendale, the Tigers got a goal from Dylan Brown with three minutes remaining in regulation.
Brown scored both goals with Drew Flippin picking up the assists.
Brown has scored 54 times this season and enters the state tournament with 105 career goals.
Republic did suffer a key injury in the quarterfinal game, losing defender Alex Leonard. His status for this weekend wasn’t known as of press time.
The third-place game is set for Saturday at 10 a.m. while the championship will be played at 2 p.m.