BELLINGHAM - Mount Baker's boy's soccer team never quit.
Even as the sun was setting on Orca Field and Mount Baker's hopes of a trip to state for the first time in 13 years, the Mountaineers fought until the final whistle in a 3-0 loss to Seattle Academy in the first round of the 1A Tri-District Tournament on Tuesday, May 13.
"It's something we've done all year long," Baker coach Jason Jorgenson said. "They just keep fighting no matter if we're up or we're down. They just keep battling."
It was the first 15 minutes of the game that hurt the Mountaineers. With timid play from all , the Mountaineers were in a deep hole before they could even get going.
"In all honesty, we've been up and down in certain games," Jorgenson said. "That first half, we didn't come out to play."
In the ninth minute, Seattle's Jordan Sloan chased a ball down the right side, sent it into the box and Reid Rogers found the net.
Less than five minutes later, Evan Brown netted a perfect shot past the outstretched arms of Baker goalkeeper Bryce Logan, who made seven saves on the day.
A penalty kick in the 36th minute by Brown made the score 3-0 heading into the second half.
The score should have been much worse if not for the sophomore Logan. He made several huge one-on-one saves to keep his team in the game.
"He's a fantastic goalie," Jorgenson said. "When we needed it, he was able to pull it out."
He showed his skill throughout the game, first coming up big in the 10th minute by leaving his line to make a save on a breakaway. The saves kept coming for Logan, who would make a similar save four minutes later.
Even playing with an injury in the last 30 minutes didn't stop Logan. He was playing so well, his defenders repaid the favor. After Logan got beat in the 50th minute, a defender sprawled in front of the shot to knock it out for a corner.
The determination showed on the field the entire second half. None of the four seniors wanted to end their season with a loss and in a 3-0 hole at halftime, the Mountaineers changed their attitude around.
The play at the back sparked a brilliant second half, in which the Mountaineers outshot the Cardinals 6-3 after a first half where the Cardinals, who are one game away from their 10th state berth in the last 13 seasons, controlled the shot totals 8-4.
"In the second half, they cleaned that up and played the way they should," Jorgenson said.
The Mountaineers looked dangerous throughout much of the final 10 minutes, something they hadn't shown until that point.
It was a charge led by senior and team captain Alex Tyska. Tyska was the dominant force up top for the Mountaineers. Anytime Baker got the ball up the field, Tyska was the target.
He almost connected in the 48th minute with a hard lined shot, but it was saved by Seattle's Jeremy Moss.
"For me as a forward, captain and senior, I find it as my duty to lead my team to victory, score when I can and take shots whenever possible," Tyska said.
Tyska didn't want it to end and as the final whistle blew, he let his emotions out.
"It's hard," Tyska said, choking back tears. "I just want to keep playing soccer with these guys."
Even though Mount Baker's season ends with a loss, the team knows what it accomplished this season.
The Mountaineers weren't supposed to make it this far. Jorgenson deemed it a rebuilding year after losing 12 seniors last season.
But to take tops in the Northwest Conference among all 1A schools and then go on to make the 1A Tri-District Tournament - the same place Baker's season ended last year - shows the improvement of the Mountaineers, who finished 7-12-1, this season.
"I'm just proud of the way the guys improved and came together as a team," Tyska said. "We had a young squad but we had a lot of talent too."
It even was evident in the character of the team.
"They came a long way from the beginning of the season. They started fighting for each other and bonding and getting results," Jorgenson said. "Even though they were young, they still played like men."
They just came up 160 minutes short of getting to a place a Mount Baker boys' soccer team hasn't been in 13 years.
Reach Joshua Hart at firstname.lastname@example.org or 360-715-2851.
SEATTLE ACADEMY 3, MOUNT BAKER 0
Goal: Reid Rogers (Seattle Academy), assist: Jordan Sloan, time: 9; Goal: Evan Brown (Seattle Academy), time: 14; Goal: Evan Brown (Seattle Academy) penalty kick, time: 36; Shots on goal: Seattle Academy 12, Mount Baker 10; Goalies (saves): Seattle Academy: Jeremy Moss (10); Mount Baker: Bryce Logan (7).