High School Soccer

An inch away: Mariners fall short of state again

Everything that haunted Sehome’s boys’ soccer team for the first half of the season came back on Thursday, May 14, at Sedro-Woolley High School.

The struggles to score, the injuries, the unlucky bounces, all of it left the Mariners reeling, as they were eliminated from the Class 2A Northwest District Tournament in a shootout by Anacortes after the game ended 0-0 through regulation and overtime.

“When it goes to PKs, anything can happen. Everyone knows that,” Sehome coach John Sylvester said. “We needed to finish it in the overtime period or at the end of the game and we were just a little unlucky not to do that. It was a matter of inches.”

In fact, it was a matter of 5 inches – or the width of a goal post.

With just seconds remaining in the first overtime, Sehome captain and lone senior Zach Wanne got past the defense and fired a shot – it rung off the upright and bounced to safety.

He was trying to send Sehome to its first state tournament since 2012 and his first on the varsity team. Instead, it left the Mariners in heartbreak.

“He usually wouldn’t miss those,” Sylvester said. “He’s been injured a lot this season; he has a lot of pressure on him. He’s the only senior. That kind of thing is tough.”

Wanne ended up burying his penalty kick in the shootout, but a miss by Isaac DeVange was the Mariners’ undoing.

Devin Trueb, who played as a field player for the entire game before switching to goalkeeper for the shootout, saved the first Anacortes penalty, but Ethan Hunger’s shot was stopped by Anacortes’ Zack Bowman directly after.

Anacortes made its next three, while Jack Willis and Wanne made theirs before DeVange’s miss wide right.

Seahawks’ Connor Wilson calmly slotted his shot home to give Anacortes a berth in the Class 2A State Tournament.

“Devin is a bit of free-kick specialist,” Sylvester said of his choice to replace Max Diehl, who made a great save at the end of regulation, in the shootout. “He made one great save there and put his hand on another one. … He gave us the chance, we just needed to convert our shots.”

The Mariners had the better chances throughout, although they came few and far between, but were unable to capitalize in a very physical game.

It had seemed Sehome had cured the ills that had plagued them during the regular season, as the Mariners finished the final six games unbeaten before topping Squalicum 2-0 in the first round of the district tournament.

But playoffs are a different beast and that showed Thursday night, as it did in Tuesday’s loss to Sedro-Woolley.

“I think it’s typical when you get into the playoffs, especially when you get deep into the playoffs. People are playing so hard and physical you can’t get clean looks,” Sylvester said. “I think the momentum was taken away by the other teams just doggedly staying in front of us.”

The Mariners return a strong cast of players, as they only lose one senior next season, and Sylvester believes it will be one of the most mature groups in the league.

Players like Sammy Pacheco-Rodriguez and Gus Diehl flashed signs of promise as goalscorers in their freshman season this year and should improve next season, Sylvester said.

“We have a ton of seniors that have had some heartbreaking losses, that have come this close to state over and over,” Sylvester said. “They will have all the tools it takes … but these are hard growing pains.”

Still, Sylvester will miss what Wanne brought to the table. His height and athleticism were the obvious factors that made him great, but Sylvester pointed out something else about what made Wanne so special.

“His heart. He really cares,” Sylvester said. “He cares so much sometimes, I think these things are hard on him.”

Sehome ends the season with an 8-6-5 record.

Reach Joshua Hart at 360-715-2238 or at joshua.hart@bellinghamherald.com.

Anacortes 1, Sehome 0 (SO)

Goalies (Saves): Anacortes: Zack Bowman (5); Sehome: Max Diehl (4). Shots on goal — Anacortes 4, Sehome 6.