Saturday’s State Boys Soccer: United Forced to Settle for Second Place in State Soccer Final
Bad Bounce: Toledo-Winlock Falls to Vashon Island 3-1 in Season’s First Loss
By Jordan Nailon
SUMNER — United’s first loss of the season reared its unforgivable face at the worst possible time here on Saturday as the team from Toledo and Winlock fell 3-1 to Vashon Island in the 1A Boys State Soccer title game.
One day after surviving a 2-1 scare with the two-time defending state champions from Overlake in the semifinals the United team looked a step slow for most of the contest, especially in the first half. The Pirates were able to take advantage of that slow start with a barrage of shots in the early going that netted them a 2-0 lead before halftime.
“We put a lot of emotional energy, physical energy, we were kind of beat up, into yesterday’s game. Not making any excuses because they had to play too but a lot of our games have been like that,” noted United coach Horst Malunat. “They capitalized on a couple of our mistakes and we didn’t capitalize on theirs. And that’s what happens.”
Vashon Island was able to get their first shot up less than two minutes into the game and they just kept firing away from then on. After 16 minutes of play United goalkeeper Alan Contreras already had at least a half dozen saves to his credit while the Toledo-Winlock offense had only sniffed scoring range on a couple of fleeting occasions. In the 22nd minute a Pirate was able to sneak behind the United defense thanks to a rare miscue and promptly posted his team’s first goal of the contest.
Two minutes later Andreas Malunat had a legitimate opportunity to tie the game but his scorching kick slammed squarely into the corner post and careened away harmlessly. About seven minutes later the Vashon Island offense was back on the grind with a flurry of near miss shot attempts that set up a close range header goal off of a cross that extended their lead to 2-0.
“Their first half was very strong and they came out really hard. That number four (Tommy Delargy) up top was great. Number six (Finley Oswald) in the middle was tough and we didn’t have a lot of answers,” admitted Malunat.
At the half United was able to make a few adjustments to their game plan but the two goal deficit proved to be too much to erase against an athletic and savvy Pirates team. After playing scoreless soccer for the first 32 minutes of the second half Vashon Island was able to take advantage of an overextended United defense with a counter that essentially sealed the outcome with a 3-0 lead and just over eight minutes remaining.
“I tried to change things up, add a little pressure, and the big thing I told the guys was we couldn’t give up a goal and we made a mistake,” said Malunat. “We had guys up and that’s what happens.”
Facing a seemingly insurmountable hole, United never considered waving the white flag and conceding defeat. With the clock stuck at two minutes during stoppage time Andreas Malunat was finally able to put his team on the scoreboard with a running header off of a direct kick from Isaac Garibay and United continued to press for another score in the face of almost certain defeat.
“We got one at the end and I appreciate the guys they kept battling. We could have given up but we kept battling,” emphasized coach Malunat. “We had guys injured. I kept having to move guys in and out. Bloody noses and everything.”
In the end, the storybook tale for Toledo-Winlock ended one chapter shy of their wildest dreams. However, the team’s first loss on the season did not leave Garibay, a senior midfielder for United and the 1A TriCo League player of the year, feeling disappointed in his longtime teammates. Instead, he felt a stinging sense of pride in the way the group battled until the final lonesome whistle.
“At halftime, 2-0 is a scary lead to have even when you’re up so we knew we were in it and we never gave up. I’m proud of everybody because we came close. It was just a few mistakes. That was it,” said Garibay. “It was something special. You know, every team we played was probably better than us. I’m not going to lie, and for us to get past everybody and never giving up, I really don’t have any words to really say. It’s just awesome.”
Coach Malunat echoed Garibay’s sentiment as his team took off their jerseys and gathered their gear for what could wind up being the final time. United featured 11 seniors this year and Saturday was Malunat’s final game at the helm of the combo program.
“I’m proud of the kids and I’m glad about what we did. I know they’re super disappointed but I think if you’d told them at the beginning of the season that they’d take second place in state this year I think that they’d be okay with it. Maybe winning a state title, I mean everybody wants that trophy but bottom line is, for me, I told them in the locker room that I don’t care about the trophy. I care about them being better human beings in the end,” said Malunat in summation of his team’s accomplishment.
United finished the season 17-1-4 with a league title, a district title and a state second place trophy to show.
Not bad for the little program that always believed it could.