PUYALLUP — The memories won’t be of an agonizing sequence but of a journey and a bond shared.
The Mount Si boys soccer team had hoped to give outgoing coach Darren Brown a memorable conclusion to his 15-year tenure, capped by a state title.
But Puyallup had other plans.
Junior Logan Oyama sizzled home a 20-yard free kick just in time — in the 79th minute — to give his school its first state title with a 2-1 win to send Mount Si home disappointed Saturday in the Class 4A state championship match at Sparks Stadium.
“We’re just a bunch of guys who play soccer, and throughout the season we became a family,” said Mount Si senior Drew Harris, tears in his eyes after giving Brown a thank you and a hug after the devastating loss. “I’m so thankful for each and every single one of these guys who gave it their all every game of the season.
“And, even though it wasn’t the ending we wanted, I’m thankful to be here, and I wouldn’t want it to be with anyone else.”
Mount Si (17-3-0) was hoping to cap off one of the best seasons in school history with a win, but disaster struck late in the match.
The Wildcats owned a 1-0 lead for 26 minutes until Andrew Irby tied the match at 1-1 in the 53rd minute. The Vikings (20-2-0) went ahead 2-1 in the 79th minute on a foul and red card on Mount Si defender Erik Davies just outside the penalty area. Oyama converted the 20-yard free kick into the upper right corner of the net to capitalize on the defensive mistake by the Wildcats.
Davies pulled the shoulder of Puyallup’s Craig Johnson and with that Brown knew it signaled the end of his team’s title dreams.
“It was a foul,” said Brown, who is stepping down as coach to focus on his duties as athletic director. “You see him break the line (of defense) and get through, so then the only you’re trying to do is hold on. When he broke through, I thought we’re screwed. The only thing (Davies) could do was pull on him and that’s a red card.
“He held him back and that’s a red card. It’s automatic and it was a good call. And at that time, you’re thinking, ‘That’s that. That’s the ballgame.’”
It looked like Puyallup was going to take the lead in the 23rd minute when Mount Si was called for a foul in the penalty area. But Mattia Parlani skidded his penalty kick wide right of the goal to leave the game scoreless.
Then, shortly after Harris missed wide left in the 25th minute for the Wildcats his teammate Sullivan Smith cashed in. Smith, a sophomore, converted a 13-yard shot into the far right corner of the net for a 1-0 lead in the 27th minute and momentum had shifted in Mount Si’s corner.
“In the first half, it was all us,” Brown said. “We had ‘em. In the second half, the momentum switched.”
Irby knotted the match at 1-1 in the 53rd minute when he collected a loose ball and kneed it into the goal. Irby found the ball just above his feet after teammate Dane Helle attempted a chip shot over Mount Si goalkeeper Colby Ramsey, who tipped the ball, and Wildcat defender Jake Jimenez was unable to control the ball.
“The thing about this team is we’ve always been a second-half team all year,” Irby said.
Mount Si posted its best finish in school history, winning three state matches to reach the final. The Wildcats hadn’t won a state match since 2010 and Harris won’t forget the ride.
“This has been the best year that I’ve ever had,” said Brown, who finished his tenure 144-79-33.
In the third/fourth-place match, senior Mohammed Ismail nailed the decisive penalty kick in the eighth round and junior goalkeeper Justin Huttinger punched away the match-clinching save on the ensuing kick as the Timberwolves (19-2-1) grabbed a school-best, third-place state finish.
Jackson, which trailed 1-0 until Jake Williams’ equalizer in the 50th minute, won the shootout 7-6 and sent home the Saxons (18-4-0) with fourth. The game was tied 1-1 heading into the shootout.