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Interlake seniors battling for return trip to state | Prep sports news
For Interlake seniors Nestor Quijada and Austin Bradford, the 2014 season could not come soon enough.
After finished 2013 without a state playoff berth for the first time in four years, Quijada and Bradford knew they wanted a more fitting ending to their own prep careers.
"I was devastated," Quijada said. "We left with a bad taste in our mouths," Bradford added.
But with a renewed sense of commitment led by an unselfish group of seniors, Interlake is back in the mix for a state tournament spot in 2014.
Coach Dan Peterson's Saints finished the regular season with a 2-1 loss to Juanita on May 6, after winning six of their previous eight games, and continue the season in the 3A KingCo Tournament Saturday, two wins from a 3A state tournament spot.
Eight different players have scored two or more goals, led by the eight of junior Jose Castillo and seven from Jason Rodriguez.
"Our center midfielders have done a good job winning the ball, and we have good team speed, so our forward get ahead," Peterson said. "It starts with winning the ball, and we attack quickly from there."
Peterson said around a half dozen of his players have played together throughout their high school careers and beyond, helping form a nucleus less concerned about individual statistics than getting back to the state tournament for the first time in Class 3A.
Quijada and Bradford said that focus began as soon as last season ended.
"I just wanted to get the team bonding," he said. "We trust each other now."
While the offense has used contributions from a host of players, the defense has relied on the experience of Quijada and Bradford, as well as a pair of standout goalies in Sam Dawson and Forest Gobble.
Dawson has four shutouts on the year in net, and Gobble has added five more.
Peterson said with a core of upperclassmen who were used to nothing short of state tournament spots before last year, the determination and expectations are ever present.
"It is always fun to see them have success, and this has been a particularly fun group," he said. "They are not surprised they are playing well."
The first round of the 3A KingCo soccer tournament is May 10, with the championship game set for May 13.
The tournament winner earns the automatic spot to state from KingCo, while the second place finisher will host a Metro League foe in a crossover game for the district's final state berth.