Friday’s Boys Soccer: Tigers Tally Three in First Half in Swamp Cup Victory
FIRST PLACE: Centralia Holds Onto Top Spot in EvCo With 3-1 Win
By Matt Baide
Centralia scored three goals in the first half and held off W.F. West in the second half to earn a 3-1 win in Swamp Cup boys soccer action in Chehalis on Friday.
The win keeps the Tigers atop of the standings, entering the game in a tie for first place with Aberdeen and Tumwater.
Despite the win, assistant coach Clarence Gunderson was unhappy with the Centralia’s performance.
“Usually we play well, today wasn’t our best game,” Gunderson said. “I feel like we did not play up to our level and I think sometimes, based on the competition, the boys don’t play the way they’re supposed to play but a win is a win and we’ll take that.”
The Tigers got on the board in the fourth minute. Julian Velazquez flipped the ball over a defender, chased it down and fired a shot to beat the goalkeeper for a 1-0 lead.
Velazquez scored again in the 32nd minute, taking a shot from the just outside the box on the right side that curved into the top left corner of the net for a 2-0 lead. In first half stoppage time, a W.F. West foul in the box allowed Jadon Grimes to bury a free kick for a 3-0 lead at intermission.
The second half was chippy with lots of physical play on both sides and the referee handing out multiple yellow cards to both teams. In the 78th minute, a foul in the box on Centralia allowed W.F. West’s Bryce Laufenberg to score a penalty kick and erase Centralia’s clean sheet.
The physicality reached a breaking point in stoppage time as Antheny Mendez-Leal went down on a play and an ambulance came and carted him off the field minutes before the final whistle was blown.
“We’ve been talking about it for days since our last game. These games are all exciting,” W.F. West coach Allen Anderson said. “Unfortunately, it got extremely physical at the end and got a little bit out of hand I think but those things happen in heated matches like this where there’s so much emotion going on and the players know each other and so it wasn’t our night.”
Anderson believes his team was nervous coming into the game against a good Tiger team, but that feeling wore off in the second half as his team played better.
“They knew coming in that Centralia is very upperclassmen heavy, a lot of experience and they’re very talented. I think we were just a little bit timid right off the bat and it showed because we gave up that goal early and we just weren’t mentally into it I guess I would say,” Anderson said. “As the game went on, I thought we played better in the second half, obviously, we outscored them the last 40 minutes. We showed that we can play up with a very solid team and a team that right now sits in first place in the league and we should be proud about that but we need to do it for 80 full minutes and not just 40.”
Gunderson was serving as head coach for this game while regular head coach Phil Strodemier served his final game of a four game suspension. Gunderson knew the game would be physical but he expects his team to keep playing hard until the final whistle.
“Just play the game, don’t worry about the outside noise. When we’re playing Chehalis, it’s always going to be tough,” Gunderson said about the physical play. “Chehalis is always going to bring their best every time they play Centralia but we need to play and come out strong and play our game and not play according to what the crowd is saying or what other people are saying. First half, I just told them they needed to come out and play harder. You watched the game, we didn’t come hard. We kind of took our foot off the gas and I feel like we can’t do that if we want to win this league this year, and that’s the goal to try to win.”
Centralia (5-3-1, 4-1) will host Aberdeen in a battle for first place in the EvCo on Tuesday. W.F. West (3-4, 1-3) travels to Tumwater on Tuesday to take on the Thunderbirds.