The hottest area team heading into the South Puget Sound League boys soccer playoffs is the same team that spent most of the season just trying to get into the playoffs.
The Tahoma Bears, after losing their first two North Division games — and not even scoring a goal — won or tied 11 of their last 12 contests, and vaulted all the way into third place in the final standings. The Bears secured that No. 3 spot last Friday night by downing Decatur in the regular-season finale, 1-0.
The Bears wound up with a 7-3-4 record and 25 points. They went into the last regular-season game one point behind Kentlake (23-22), but picked up three points for their victory, while the Falcons earned just one for their 2-2 tie against Jefferson.
“The confidence of the players as a whole has blossomed,” Tahoma coach Lance Fischbach said. “We had some new faces and were trying to figure out where those kids fit. The growth of some of the younger guys has been big.”
That third-place finish was big, too. When the Bears (7-3-6 overall) take on Beamer tonight at 6 at Bethel High, it will be with the knowledge that no matter what happens, they’ll be back on the field for Saturday’s single-elimination district playoffs.
Tahoma’s Evan Denmark tallied the Bears’ lone goal against Decatur, doing so on a penalty kick in the 77th minute. John Thompson picked up the shutout in goal, his second of the season. He also shared two shutouts with fellow keeper Chad Burgess.