The game swung back and forth all night. But just when the Kentwood Conquerors needed it to swing back their way, it didn’t.
So the door swung closed – or, perhaps more to the point, slammed shut – on Kentwood’s boys soccer season Tuesday night, as Mountain View rallied twice to tie the game, and finally pulled out a 3-2 victory in a penalty kick shootout at Battle Ground Stadium.
Regulation time and a pair of five-minute golden-goal overtimes ended deadlocked at 2-2. The Thunder won the shootout, 5-3.
“It was kind of like the Puyallup game,” coach Aaron Radford said in reference to the South Puget Sound League title contest on May 7, which the Vikings won in double overtime, 1-0.
“We played well, a lot of the things we were asking them to do were effective, our ball movement was good. Our (scoring) chances were limited, but that happens in the playoffs. You have to capitalize on what you get.”
Kentwood, which ended its season with a 12-5-2 record, was making its first trip to the state playoffs since 2002. The Conquerors came into state on the heels of winning the South Puget Sound League North Division title and a 3-1 victory against Tahoma in last Saturday’s West Central District playoffs.
“We all kind of come in with these high expectations. Maybe at the beginning, we didn’t have a lot to back them up other than the aspiration of a new season and new hope,” Radford said.
“From Day One, they were able to pull everything together and put everything into it.”
Kentwood took the lead twice.
Ryan Curtis, who scored on a direct free kick from 35 yards away in last Saturday’s win against Tahoma, put the Conquerors on the board in the 14th minute. Spencer Ward sent a long through ball down the middle, and Curtis, playing on the right wing, flew up the sidelines, got outside the Thunder’s defense, went one-on-one with the Mountain View goalkeeper, and put it into the net.
The Thunder tied it just two minutes later, and the half ended in that 1-1 deadlock.
Ward put Kentwood back on top in the 50th minute. With a free kick from 35 yards away, Ward followed Radford’s instructions to drive the ball toward the far post to force the Mountain View goalkeeper to make a quick decision whether to come out and play it. He did come forward, and Ward’s kick went over him and dropped into the net.
The Thunder tied it again in the 67th minute. But the remaining 13 minutes of regulation and 10 minute of overtime went scoreless, setting up the PK tiebreaker. Danny Brill, Luke Angevine and Matt Eronemo scored for the Conquerors, but Mountain View converted all five of its kicks.
Kentwood lost starting goalkeeper Mitch Pombrio just two minutes into the second half. He and a Thunder player both were in pursuit of the same through ball and collided, hitting head to head. Pombrio was knocked out on the play, according to Radford, and taken to the hospital to be checked. Radford said he was released late Tuesday night and returned home.
Reserve goalkeeper Rodney Greiling came in for Pombrio, “and he came up with some big stops,” Radford said.
Kentwood will graduate eight seniors, including Pombrio (nine shutouts of his own, two more shared with Greiling) and leading scorer Danny Brill (seven goals, eight assists). However, seven juniors are slated to return, a list which includes four-goal scorers Luke Angevine and Conner Biggs.
“We have some potential for next year to not completely drop off,” Radford said. “But replacing eight players on the field at one time, there’s a lot of work to be done by the JV and underclass to put in the effort during the offseason and fight for a spot and not just expect something to happen.”