BELLINGHAM - Twice has Sehome's boys' soccer team faced elimination this year, and twice the Mariners have come up with performances worthy of seeing their season stay alive.
And for a team starved for offense, the 3-0 win over Lakewood in the consolation second round of the Class 2A Bi-Disrtict soccer tournament on Tuesday, May 13, at Civic Stadium, offered a ray of optimism following a 4-0 loss to Cedarcrest in the first round.
Coming back from such a defeat, senior captain Sam Diehl said, posed a challenge to his young team - a challenge it met with poise beyond its years.
"To come off a 4-0 loss to Cedarcrest, everyone is rattled," Diehl said. "There's a lot of young players on the team, so we don't have a lot of district experience, so we're just rallying the troops, saying, 'Hey, seniors, if you want this to be our last game, step off the pitch and whoever wants to fight for the team stay on.'"
The Mariners will face Sedro-Woolley at 7 p.m. Thursday, May 15, at Civic Stadium in the consolation district semifinals. The winner earns a bid into the state tournament, while the loser sees its season come to an end.
Charlie Lahud provided Sehome the spark it needed, sending a shot past the Cougars' keeper Mitchell Denning in the 36th minute. The sophomore forward showed what being in the right place at the right time can mean, getting the deflection from a corner and one-timing it through a group of defenders.
"I wanted to take it shoelaces, but I decided to take it side of the foot," Lahud said. "Kevin (Sun) was standing right in the corner, and he let it go by him, and I told him not to touch it because he was offsides. He shielded it and it went in."
Coach John Sylvester's backline, captained by Diehl and junior Zach Wanne, kept it scoreless going into the half. Diehl, though, who has scored on several occasions this year on set pieces, gave Sehome its second goal of the game in the 58th minute when he beat the keeper low and to the left on a penalty kick.
His goal started a barrage of shots from the Mariners' attacking forwards and midfielders, although many were off target and errant. Despite the frustrating sight of seeing shot after shot sail high, wide, or both, Sylvester said it's something worth appreciating.
"We're happy we put them under so much pressure the whole game," he said, "but our timing was a little off, and our shooting was off. We got so many great opportunities for good shots, and we had poor shots, so tomorrow we will work on finishing and getting more confident with that."
Not all the shots were poorly taken, though, with senior Jesse Haggen grazing the top bar minutes after Diehl's goal.
Lahud nearly did the same attempting his second goal of the game, although it was to no avail. As was a left-footed shot from Keifer Thomas in the 66th minute that sailed high.
But while the Mariners struggled to keep shots on goal, Lakewood, on the other end, was pinned back and never had the opportunity to challenge Sehome keeper Devin Trueb, who only had to make five saves.
"We were strong enough to make our defense a priority," Sylvester said. "I didn't think they had any real good looks, and that is the most important thing."
Added Diehl: "We knew they would play fast, but we knew they weren't very technical. It was more just stay in front of the, stay in front of them."
Ethan Hassi's goal in the 76th minute into the upper left-hand corner of the net was the final piece of insurance Sehome needed to book its trip into the consolation semifinals of the district tournament. The Mariners are one win away from earning a berth into the Class 2A State Tournament, although a third elimination game stands between them and that coveted bid.
Nothing new, Sylvester said.
Reach Alex Bigelow at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-715-2238. Follow @bhamsports on Twitter for other Whatcom County sports updates.
SEHOME 3, LAKEWOOD 0
Goal: Charlie Lahud (Sehome); Assist: NA; Time: 36:00; Goal: Sam Diehl (Sehome), Assist: NA, Time: 58:00; Goal: Ethan Hassi (Sehome), Assist: NA, Time: 76:00. Shots: Sehome: 19; Lakewood: 7; Saves (goalies); Sehome: Devin Trueb 5; Lakewood: Mitchell Denning 4.