Redmond boys soccer coach Lacy Wilkinson has said this season that the Mustangs were just a few clicks away from being a solid soccer machine.
That time is close at hand.
“To win the semis, we gotta be on all cylinders,” said junior defender Reece Wiyrick. “Last game was definitely the best we’ve played all season. We finally connected and it felt really good to play in that game.”
The Mustangs defeated host Snohomish, 4-0, on May 18 in the 3A state quarterfinals at Veterans Memorial Stadium and will next play in the semifinals at 2 p.m. Friday against Roosevelt at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
This is how Redmond rolled against Snohomish.
The Mustangs (16-4-0) scored 10 minutes in on a Martin Dadzie 15-yard shot that tucked just inside the near post.
In the 59th minute, Wiyrick blasted a free kick from 45 yards out. Snohomish goalkeeper Michael Herrera charged forward to catch the ball mid-air, but the ball slipped through his hands and landed in front of the Panthers’ goal. A scrum followed, and the Mustangs’ Victor Araujo poked the ball into the back of the net to give Redmond a 2-0 advantage.
Minutes later, that lead grew to 3-0.
This time Redmond’s Jacen Stein received a cross from Angel Hernandez wide open in front of the Panthers’ goal. He easily put the ball past Herrera with 28 minutes to play.
Wiyrick capped the Mustang’s big night, extending Redmond’s lead to 4-0 in the 64th minute, beating Herrera with shot in the upper-right corner of goal off a penalty kick.
“I think it was just possession: Snohomish was chasing the entire game, and North Thurston, they couldn’t get the ball in the first half — we were up 3-0 in the first half,” said Araujo of how well the Mustangs are presently playing.
In an opening-round win over North Thurston, 3-1, Hernandez netted two goals and Dadzie scored one to give the Mustangs their first state victory since 1986.
“During the regular season, we were doing really well and we had an idea that we were gonna make it this far,” said Araujo, a senior midfielder. “Beating Snhohomish 4-0 in the quarters, it’s like we’ve been playing so well, we can pretty much go as far as we want, I think, if we play that way.”
Roosevelt, which features a host of Seattle United players, will be a tough competitor, Araujo said, adding that the Mustangs need to play their possession game to the fullest to come out on top.
Wiyrick, who tallied the final goal in PKs to defeat Mercer Island for the KingCo title, said, “It feels really good knowing that this is the first time the Redmond program’s ever made it this far in state.” After the Snohomish win, “The bus ride home was awesome,” he added with a smile.
Araujo was grinning as well after he spoke of the Redmond players having tight bonds of friendship, respecting each other and forming a good soccer community. Their classmates are lending a hand as well by supporting the team with uplifting comments in the halls and loud cheers in the stands.
Hernandez, a sophomore forward, said it’s a fun program to be part of and they’re serious when the ball bounces into play. They get “more and more hyped every time we win a game and it just motivates us to keep winning and trying to make history,” he said.
With feet so swift that he should be recruited for “Dancing With the Stars,” said one local photographer, Hernandez has a knack for cracking the net.
“I like scoring goals ever since I was little, so my dream is to become a professional soccer player. When I’m at home, I just go outside and run around and play with the ball, and I do a couple sprints and I just get quick and train a lot,” Hernandez said.
As Hernandez looked around the Redmond stadium during practice on Monday afternoon, he noted that it was nice and peaceful with the Redmond soccer players as its only inhabitants. The silence is ideal for working hard and concentrating on their skills, he said.
That quietude won’t last for long, however, as come Friday at the semifinal in Puyallup, the crowd will be roaring in their ears once again.
Herald staff writer Andrew Lang contributed to this report.