Sports

Bear Creek boys' soccer team beats Mount Vernon, advances to state semifinals

Bear Creek senior Nick Cho battles for the ball against a Mount Vernon Christian defender during the Grizzlies
Bear Creek senior Nick Cho battles for the ball against a Mount Vernon Christian defender during the Grizzlies' state quarterfinals match against the Hurricanes. Cho scored one of his team's three second-half goals as the Grizzlies went on to win 4-1. They will play at 6 p.m. against La Conner on Friday at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner in the semifinals.
— image credit: Photo courtesy of Matt Campbell, www.sportspixs.com

Guided by coach Chad Pohlman, The Bear Creek School boys' soccer team had plenty to get excited about after their 4-1 win over Mount Vernon Christian in the quarterfinals of the Class 1B/2B state tournament last Saturday night at Sammamish High School.

After winning it all in 2006, they now find themselves just two wins away from hoisting another first-place trophy. The Grizzlies (13-3-2) take on La Conner at 6 p.m. Friday at Sunset Chevrolet Stadium in Sumner. La Conner (9-3-2) beat Providence Christian, 3-2, in a quarterfinal game last Saturday.

"We always start the season with the goal to win the league, and we took care of that, Pohlman said. "Once you do that, you really just got to win every single game. We'll go to practice on Monday and we'll talk a lot about La Conner (defeated Providence on Saturday to advance) and we won't even look ahead."

From the get-go against Mount Vernon, it was clear which team had the advantage as the ball almost never found its way onto the Grizzlies' side of the field.

Bear Creek racked up an amazing 10 shots on goal in the first half and didn't score until the very last one, a perfectly executed corner kick in the closing minute from Payum Abtahi to Lucas Fernandez, who broke the Grizzlies' scoring drought.

"We had a lot of corner kicks, but we were fortunate to get that one in," Pohlman said of the crucial score. "Give the other team credit, they came back, scored a goal and put the pressure back on us."

Mount Vernon's goal was scored early in the second half by junior midfielder Cooper Blade on a strange play that saw the ball glance off his body from a corner kick and somehow elude Bear Creek goalkeeper Jamie Clough.

Faced with a tie score, the Grizzlies left nothing in the bag and started to feed the ball to the outside with great success, as Mark Phillips scored unassisted and Nick Cho put one in at point-blank range off an assist from Dillon Camp about five minutes apart late in the half to put the game away.

"We knew coming in they were going to pack in the defense. The issue wasn't going to be getting shots on goal, the issue was going to get one to go in," noted Pohlman on Mount Vernon's game strategy.

"When you have a team that's playing for a tie, you have to adjust. Everyone has a role, and the way the game unfolded, we had to attack our wings," Pohlman said. "That meant everyone else had to be unselfish and just play their role, and it worked out especially in the second half."

Up next for the Grizzlies will be a tough test in La Conner from the Northwest 1A/2B Conference, a team that can score with the best of them. In a four-game stretch earlier this season, the Braves notched 22 goals.

"La Conner's a good team, they've got a couple of goal-scorers," Pohlman said. "For us, it just starts with that. We just have to find a way to stop those guys and let the rest of the game take care of itself."

If the Grizzlies' superb defense during the Mount Vernon game was any indication — the Grizzlies out-shot the Hurricanes, 21-3 — La Conner will have its hands full against the Grizzlies' balanced offense attack.

But as close as the Grizzlies are to eyeing another title, Pohlman says they still want to take it one step at a time.

"If we win that game, great, then we're playing for the championship. Whatever happens at that point, happens."

For more photos of this match, go to photographer Matt Campbell's Web site at www.sportspixs.com.

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