LYNDEN - Lynden Christian's Cody Fransen and Lucas Reardon made sure an inability to finish didn't plague the Lyncs this time.
LC coach Brent De Ruyter said 100 percent when asked how much of an emphasis was placed on making the most of scoring opportunities against Meridian Thursday, May 2, at Bender Fields.
Just 24 hours before Lynden Christian relied on an own goal to escape a No. 1 versus No. 8 upset against Coupeville during the first round of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament.
The Lyncs created a number of chances but couldn't score. This time was different.
Fransen scored twice, including a blast that snuck inside the right post from 20 yards out, and Reardon added to his highlight reel with a beautiful strike from 25 yards out to propel LC to an impressive 3-0 win.
The victory advances Lynden Christian to the Northwest District title game where it will face South Whidbey at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 4, at King's High School. The winner earns an automatic Class 1A State Tournament berth.
"Possession wise, these guys are really hitting on all cylinders," De Ruyter said. "They really are. This is now three or four matches in a row when our possession has been there, and now we finally finished like we did today. When these guys do that, they're lights out."
Both Reardon's go-ahead goal in 24th minute and Fransen's game-sealer in the 76th were absolutely top class.
"The ball started above the cross bar, and about halfway, dove down and right," De Ruyter said of Reardon's strike. "There was no way (Meridian' goalkeeper Patrick Carlson) had a chance. For him to hit that one, and Cody's, that was a deal breaker right there. If we start finishing like that, putting balls on net and putting pressure on people, that will bring us to the next level."
Lynden Christian converted half of the shots it took, while Meridian struggled to get much of anything going a day after beating King's 6-1 during its opening-round district game.
However, Meridian midfielder Zachary Donahue missed a great chance to give the Trojans a lead 12 minutes in. The senior bounced a shot off the crossbar less than 10 yards from goal off a corner kick.
Donahue gripped his head in frustration, knowing he spoiled a golden opportunity.
"It's game changer," said Meridian coach Joe Spencer of Meridian's early miss. "We always play better when we score early. Every team does, but that's one of our goals every game is to get on the board early. We get that one in, and it might be a different game right now."
The loss sends Meridian to a third-fourth place game against Mount Baker at noon, Saturday, March 4, at Whatcom Community College, where Class 1A Tri-District Tournament seeding will be on the line.
Meridian's near 12th-minute goal was a minimal blemish on LC's strong defensive performance, as goalkeeper Brady Harvey and the Lyncs' back line recorded their third consecutive clean sheet.
"First off, I think our defense did a really nice job," Reardon said. "We did a really good job of attacking out of the back and finding our mid's feet."
Lynden Christian's ability to dictate possession and make the easy pass led to Fransen's first goal in the 47th minute.
LC meticulously worked the ball down the field, until Reardon took a deep shot that ricocheted off the crossbar 10 feet straight into the air. Fransen found himself in the right place and booted the ball inside the right post as it fell to the grass.
"We noticed last game was a little rough with finishing," Reardon said, "so we tried to put a little more emphasis into that, because we are really good at creating shots. We just need to put them in."
Meridian didn't look like the same club it was Wednesday, Spencer said. Trojans lightning-quick forwards Tomas Alvarado and Junior Castro were unable create chances against Lynden Christian's suffocating pressure.
"I think it was a lot of our own doing," Spencer said. "Obviously, LC played well today. They were very organized. I think we got up for the King's game so much that today ended up being a bit of a letdown for us, unfortunately."
Reach Andrew Lang at email@example.com or call 360-756-2862.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 3, MERIDIAN 0
Scoring: Goal: Lucas Reardon (Lynden Christian), assist: Cody Fransen, time: 24; Goal: Cody Fransen, assist: Lucas Reardon, time: 47; Goal: Cody Fransen, assist: Toby Dalla Santa, time: 76. Shots on goal: Meridian 3; Lynden Christian 6. Goalies (saves): Meridian: Patrick Carlson (3); Lynden Christian: Brady Harvey (2).
Reach ANDREW LANG at firstname.lastname@example.org or call ext. 862.