SUMNER - To reach the semifinals of the Class 1A State Tournament this spring, the Lynden Christian boys' soccer team has had to have some success against teams with some speed.
The Lyncs have even shut down some highly skilled teams.
"We've just never had to face one that had both for 80 minutes," Lyncs coach Brent De Ruyter said.
At least not until they faced the defending state runners up on Friday, May 24.
Chelan displayed enough speed for a 4x100 relay but more pure soccer ability than just about any team the Lyncs have faced all season, and the Mountain Goats used both to score a pair of first-half goals and derail the Lyncs' hopes for a state title with a 2-0 semifinal loss at Sunset Chev Stadium.
"They played a great game, so hats off to them," LC senior Toby Dalla Santa said. "They worked the ball real well, and they had a lot of speed and used it well. They really out-played us the first 20 minutes, and we didn't respond well. When we did respond, it was a little too late."
With the win, Chelan moves on to the state championship game for the second straight year and will face Seattle Christian, hoping to atone for a shootout loss to Overlake in last year's title game.
Lynden Christian (14-7-3), which lost for the fifth time in the program's six trips to the state semifinals, will face Okanogan in a 10 a.m. consolation final in Sumner. The Lyncs will attempt to claim the third-place trophy for the second time in school history and the first time since 1995.
But they know that, too, won't be easy.
"They're a very similar group as far as speed," De Ruyter said of Okanogan. "They're in the same league as Chelan and had two really good matches with them. So our hands are going to be full."
LC certainly had all it could handle from Chelan early in Friday's semifinal.
The Mountain Goats immediately put the speed of Eleazar Galvan, Danny Mendoza, Erik Garcia, Ivan Magdaleno and others to good work, putting pressure on the corners of an LC defense that had not allowed a goal in six of its last eight games, including the first two rounds of the state tournament, and had surrendered only six goals in the month of May entering Friday.
It seemed every time the Lyncs turned around there was a green and white blur racing up the field.
And the Mountain Goats weren't just fast - they had the ability to create space with the ball and find each other in perfect position for scoring chances.
"That was a great team," De Ruyter said. "I give them all the credit in the world. Our guys played incredibly hard. Their speed and organization just created some difficulties for us a lot."
It took 13 minutes, 13 seconds for those difficulties to show up on the scoreboard, when Garcia dribbled around a defender and ripped a shot into the upper right corner to put the Mountain Goats up 1-0.
Galvan made it 2-0 a little more than 24 minutes later, when he gathered a rebound off one of six saves by Lyncs goalie Brady Harvey and fired a low laser into the lower left side of the goal.
Both goals were unassisted.
"It was just a matter of a numbers game, and when they gained the numbers, we didn't quite join them quick enough," De Ruyter said. "That's why they had their opportunities early. We stabbed at the ball here on the edge of the box, and that really gave them an opportunity, and then the lofted service. When you're at state and you're in the Final Four, all those little things make a big difference. They capitalized on both."
The Lyncs had their own opportunities later in the first half, but they just couldn't find the back of the net.
Luke Reardon put a nice header on goal, but Miguel Sanchez robbed him with a beautiful diving save, and Dalla Santa blasted another shot that Sanchez grabbed as the horn sounded to end the first half.
"It wasn't for a lack of opportunities," De Ruyter said. "They're just a really good team. We have to tip our hats to them."
Chelan also kept the Lyncs from utilizing their noticeable height advantage throughout the game, keeping pressure on Dalla Santa in the middle of the field and "forcing him to distribute it quickly and kind of uncomfortably," De Ruyter said.
"They played really aggressive, and they were pressuring us really hard," Dalla Santa said. "We had trouble moving the ball because of the pressure they were putting on us. We made too many errors - turned the ball over and bad touches out there."
That, more than anything is what the Lyncs hope to work on for Saturday as they prepare to face another speedy, skilled program in Okanagan.
"I think we need to relax," Dalla Santa said. "We were really nervous that first 20 minutes, and we've got to play confident. We need to work the ball around better and adjust to that speed and use our size. When we settle down, we serve balls and we work the ball around, we're going to win balls in the air. Especially in the second half we were able to do that, and we need to do that tomorrow."
Reach David Rasbach at email@example.com or 360-715-2286.
CHELAN 2, LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 0
Scoring: Goal: Erik Garcia (Chelan), time: 13:13. Goal: Eleazar Galvan (Chelan), time: 37:24. Shots on goal: Lynden Christian 4, Chelan 9. Goalies (saves): Lynden Christian: Brady Harvey (6), Chelan: Miguel Sanchez (4).
Reach DAVID RASBACH at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2271.