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Ferris' Clayton Paull, left, and Lewis and Clark's Dane Lennon compete for ball. (Colin Mulvany)

Ferris completes turnaround, heads for district

Halfway through the season, the Ferris boys were the surprise of Greater Spokane League soccer – and that wasn’t a good thing.

But in a remarkable turnaround, capped by Friday’s 3-1 win over visiting Lewis and Clark, the Saxons are heading to next week’s district playoffs on a five-game winning streak in league play. Surprise: Ferris is suddenly the hottest team in the league.

“The kids have started having confidence in each other,” Saxons coach Robin Crain said after winning a hard-fought match before a crowd of about 150.

Ferris, 1-3 earlier this season, will face third-seed Central Valley in a first-round 4A district match Wednesday at 4 p.m. at Albi Stadium.

“It’s been a complete turnaround,” junior forward Clayton Paull said. “It’s been so complete you wouldn’t even know it, but the practice we’ve put in has been phenomenal.”

So was Paull’s cross in the seventh minute, a near-perfect ball to set up a tap-in goal for Matt Belles, a sophomore midfielder who figured in all three Ferris goals.

LC had several good chances later in the first half, and had a goal disallowed for a pushing foul about 5 minutes before halftime.

After 47 scoreless minutes, it was Belles who set up another sophomore, forward Matt Beaularier, for a two-goal lead.

Ferris keeper Kris Heldt was called for a foul in the penalty box, and the Tigers’ Cory Ames capitalized in the 57th minute to close within one. The Tigers had 11 shots on goal to six for Ferris, and several close-in shots in the late going, but couldn’t equalize.

With 7 minutes left, Ferris freshman Terry Cox pounced on a ball that hung near the goal line on the right side of the field, and crossed nicely to Belles, who again was in the right place in the biggest match of his career.

“I don’t usually play that much, so this game was really big for me. I tried my hardest, and good things happened,” Belles said.

Including a finish to the season that has surprised everyone but the Saxons themselves.

The three goals are the most given up this season by LC, which nevertheless advanced directly to district after Gonzaga Prep fell 1-0 at University later Friday night. Had G-Prep won, the Tigers and Bullpups would have played a tie-breaker game Monday.

Instead, LC faces GSL champ Mead at 8 p.m. Wednesday, also at Albi.