PUYALLUP, Wash. – As halftimes go, this one was pretty special for the Ferris boys soccer team.
Down a goal to the top-ranked team in the state, the Saxons did more than regroup Friday night: they reinvented themselves – on defense, set pieces and everywhere in between – to defeat Skyview 3-2 and earn a spot in the State 4A title game.
There was no stirring speech from coach Robin Crain, just a few adjustments that put the Saxons into today’s 5 p.m. championship game against Snohomish, a 2-0 winner over Kentwood, at Sparks Stadium.
The biggest was forced on them: Skyview midfielder Carter Johnson, the two-time Gatorade state player of the year, had already notched a goal and an assist, the second coming in the dying moments of the first half.
“He was causing us fits,” said Crain, who assigned Matt Belles – an attacking midfielder – to limit Johnson’s touches.
“And he did a great job,” said Crain, noting that Johnson was almost a nonfactor the rest of the way.
At the other end of the field, the Saxons reinvented a “super-secret” play that midfielder Matt Beaulaurier noted had never panned out in practice: a corner kick from the right side from Connor Ourada for a header to the far post.
But this time it worked to perfection: Beaulaurier met the ball in midair with a rocketing header that tied the game in the 51st minute.
“Somehow it went in,” Beaulaurier said with a laugh.
Eight minutes later, their confidence restored, the Saxons got the ball to midfielder Johnathan Galgalo on the left side.
Galgalo looked downfield and saw teammate Mikias Repsold making a back-post run, and sent the ball flying – past Repsold, past the last defender and straight to sophomore forward Eric Hollenbaugh.
“I was just pleased to let that ball get over the last defender,” said Hollenbaugh, who adjusted and headed the ball past Skyview goalkeeper Evan Laws for a 3-2 lead that stood up until the final whistle.
The Saxons (18-2) began the game the same way, taking full advantage of a throw-in just 2 minutes into the match.
Beaulaurier’s long throw reached the far post, where it settled to the ground and was tapped by a player on each side before Derek Brock tapped the ball into the right side of the goal.
Ferris continued to pressure a shaky Skyview defense early in the first half. Saxons forward Terry Cox had a decent chance in the 16th minute, but his header went straight to keeper Evan Laws.
Skyview (17-2-3) had a goal nullified by an offsides call early in the match, and still trailed 1-0 with 10 minutes left in the half when Eric Ferris broke free up the middle and found Johnson alone on the right wing.
Johnson did the rest, notching his 27th goal of the year by slotting the ball past Ferris keeper Alex Pells. The Ferris players claimed offsides by Johnson, then struggled the rest of the half to get the ball out their own half.
Skyview’s pressure paid off in stoppage time, as Johnson found Ferris alone on the right wing, and Ferris shot the ball under a diving Pells to put the Storm ahead 2-1 at halftime.
“It was tough to give up that goal, but you move on,” said Pells, who faced nine shots and made five saves.
“We just wanted it more than they did,” Pells said.