Being the No. 1 seed in a postseason tournament is usually a pretty good thing, except when you get paired with a No. 8 seed like the Bellingham boys’ soccer team — a team Sehome coach John Sylvester said was probably worthy of a No. 4 seed.
“They are always going 100 percent all the time,” Sehome senior Kevin Sun said. “That’s makes them have a solid defense, as well. ... Sometimes it’s hard to beat those kind of teams, because heart is a lot of it.”
Bellingham’s heart gave Sehome fits in two regular season meetings, holding the Mariners to just two goals combined in a win and a tie.
The first round of the Class 2A Northwest District on Saturday, May 7, at Civic Stadium was no different, as the Red Raiders continued to frustrate Sehome for the first 76 minutes of the game. But just when the game appeared headed to overtime, Sun put back a shot that Bellingham goalie Joseph Worley deflected off the foot of Danny Fazio for the game winner in a 1-0 victory.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
“I told the guys that diamond sharpens diamond — we play the best and that’s how we become the best,” Sylvester said of facing Bellingham.
The game winner
Though both teams had numerous scoring opportunities in the back-and-forth affair, Sun was the only one to find the back of the net. His game winner came after Fazio streaked up the left side and sent a crossing shot that seemed destined to find the lower right corner until Worley dove to his left to make the save.
“I was thinking maybe the keeper might have saved that, but I was still on my toes just in case it came out, and it did,” Sun said. “I didn’t really think about it.”
Sylvester said Sehome made a mid-game switch of its outside midfielders, and the decision paid off on the game-winning goal.
“We thought one had a good chance to beat one of the other guys,” Sylvester said. “In fact, he did. He beat him down the left side, the guy (Fazio) that we moved and got the shot across the goal.”
That one hurts
Part of the reason Sehome was hunting for something different is junior midfield Mason Rathkamp went down with an apparent knee injury midway through the first half.
“That was a big deal,” Sylvester said. “He has a lot to do with distribution for this team. Without him, we have to play a slightly different style. ... We don’t know the extent of his injury.”
With the win, Sehome (14-0-3) moves on to the district semifinals and will host Cedarcrest at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 10, at Civic Stadium. With a win in that game, the Mariners will advance to state for the first time since 2012.
Bellingham (9-5-3) drops into the consolation bracket and will face its other crosstown rival in Squalicum in a 5 p.m. elimination game Tuesday at Civic Stadium. The Red Raiders will have to win three straight games to advance to state for the first time since 2013.