With a berth in the Class 4A state soccer tournament hanging in the balance, the Rogers Rams came through in clutch.
After 80 minutes of regulation and two five-minute overtime sessions, the outcome of a winner-to-state, loser-out contest against the Mount Rainier Rams came down to a penalty kick shootout to break a 1-1 tie.
Rogers outscored Mount Rainier 5-3 in an overtime shootout, earning a 2-1 victory May 17 at Art Crate Field in Spanaway to win a spot in the state tourney. Rogers players Kaleb Miles, Nick Mejia, John Willet, Colin Mayes and Cooper Gray scored a goal apiece in the shootout. Gray scored the fifth and final goal to clinch the victory. Rogers keeper Jake Fredrikson made a diving save on Alex Castillo’s shot in a second attempt to give his team some breathing room in the shootout.
“I just had to be confident. I have been here for four years, and defending penalty kicks is just normal. It’s not a big deal. Going into the shootout I had a lot of faith in our team. We had a lot of underclassmen shooting the PK’s, and they did a great job,” Fredrikson said. “It’s great knowing we are going to state finally. It’s the first time in my four years that we have made it.”
Things looked bleak for Rogers as the minutes ticked away in the second half. With 10 minutes to go in regulation, the Rams trailed Mount Rainier 1-0 and weren’t generating much offense. That changed in an instant when defender Ian Muller scored in the 75th minute, tying the game at 1-1. Rogers head coach JR Farias said Muller’s goal gave his team a wealth of confidence.
“Once we got one back we knew our chances were pretty good with Jake (goalie),” Farias said. “I haven’t seen a better keeper this year. We were confident but we also wanted to make sure that during overtime we didn’t just sit back. We continued to play our game.”
Disaster nearly struck Rogers in the 89th minute of play. Mount Rainier had three, point-blank shots on goal but couldn’t put in the game winner. One shot was blocked by Fredrikson, one was deflected by a Rogers defender and the third and final shot sailed over the cross-bar.
“It was scary. When it comes down to the golden goal, those things can happen. Everyone is scrambling, and our guys were hitting the ground trying to keep everything away that we could,” Farias said.
Farias said Fredrikson’s block on Mount Rainier’s second attempt during the shootout was the turning point.
“When Jake got that save, it took a lot of pressure off of our shooters,” Farias said.
Farias said this is the first time the Rogers boys soccer program has advanced to the Class 4A state tournament since 2009.
“We’re having a really good season, and our seniors deserve this opportunity to go on,” he said. “The last few years we have always gotten to this point (one game shy of advancing to the state tournament) and have had tough losses. To finally punch it in with this group of seniors is special. We’ve had an unreal year.”
Shaun Scott: 253-552-7002 firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @herald_shaun