Senior soccer standout Cody Fransen is still hoping he can become accustomed to playing with a long, heavy cast on his arm.
If he does so, that will mean Lynden Christian’s boys’ soccer team will have overcome loser-out pressure two games in a row.
The Lyncs’ 2-1 shootout setback to Sultan on Monday, May 4, at Bender Fields dropped LC into a second-round loser-out game in the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament.
If LC (5-11-1) wins that game for survival — set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 9, again an opponent to be determined Wednesday — the Lyncs will advance to next week’s Bi-District Tournament, in which the opening round is also loser-out.
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“This is the third game I’ve played with this cast,” said Fransen, who missed much of the season following wrist surgery and endured the agony of seeing the Lyncs lose a penalty kick shootout 4-2 even though he made his PK as his team’s first shooter.
“The (well-padded) cast adds a lot of weight” said Fransen, who has signed to play soccer with Trinity Western University in British Columbia. “But I’m getting the hang of it, and I’ll have to get the hang of it for the rest of the season.”
Fransen was denied twice in the first half on hard shots, then really endured tough luck in the 58th minute.
He worked his way into good position to score, but his shot bounced off the right bar and freakishly landed in the arms of Sultan’s second-half goalkeeper, Dawson Songstad, who was near the left bar.
Fransen, anticipating a possible rebound before Songstad claimed the ball, was immediately injured in a collision. But he sat out less than five minutes.
Senior striker Justin Brester then quickly gave LC a 1-0 lead by scoring on a penalty kick in the 63rd minute. It was the 15th goal of the season for the Lyncs, whose strength has been typically solid defense in the talent-filled Northwest Conference.
Following a season-opening 7-0 loss to Nooksack Valley, the Lyncs permitted only 26 goals in the next 15 regular-season games.
Sultan (7-9-1), however, came through with what seemed like a miracle despite LC’s feisty defense. The Turks tied the game 1-1 with only five minutes remaining in regulation, scoring on a sensational 35-yard shot with the wind by junior Jose Carranza.
“Their goalie (Jake Poag) got his fingertips on the ball with a leap, but he really didn’t have a chance to prevent the goal,” said Carranza, one of the guttiest players on the field despite his 125-pound frame. “It was my fourth goal of the season. I really didn’t think that the ball would go in when I shot.”
LC coach Brent DeRuyter said Poag was excellent while playing the entire game.
“Jake made some great saves,” said DeRuyter. “Cody played well and Liam Kroontje was everywhere. Liam played three or four positions and did an outstanding job.”
The two five-minute overtimes were scoreless, so the game went to penalty kicks.
Poag blocked Sultan’s first penalty kick for his eighth save when the versatile junior athlete went horizontal to deny Omar Valera. But Sultan made its next four kicks, all on well-placed corner shots that DeRuyter agreed Poag could not have stopped.
In order, Josh Gonzalez, Santos Garcia, Juan Cerna-Sanchez and Josh Morehead did the honors, with Morehead’s shot setting off a wild celebration.
Fransen and freshman Carson Janzen made LC’s first two attempts, but Kroontje was blocked on a dive by Songstad and freshman Derek Kamena saw his attempt barely miss.
The Lyncs managed five shots in the first half but only three in the second half, including Brester’s penalty kick goal. LC limited the Turks to three first-half shots but Sultan took eight in the second half, including one that resulted in a last-second save by Poag.
In overtime, Sultan got off two shots and LC made one attempt. The Turks at first appeared to have scored on a high, wind-blown effort by Mauricio Sanchez, but it was ruled that the ball bounced out.
“We haven’t been consistent and it showed today,” said DeRuyter. “The effort was there for us, but we didn’t played well enough.”
Sultan 2, Lynden Christian 1 (SO)
Sultan wins shootout, 4-2. Goal: Justin Brester (LC), penalty kick; time: 63; Goal: Jose Carranza (Sultan). Time, 75. Shots on goal: Lynden 9 (1 in overtime); Sultan 12 (2 in overtime). Goalkeepers (saves): Sultan: Deion Bonilla (2); Dawson Songstad (2). LC: Jake Poag (9).