The Bellevue Wolverines boys soccer team clinched a berth in the 3A state championship game courtesy of a triumph against its biggest rival.
Bellevue earned a 2-0 win against the Interlake Saints in the 3A state semifinals on May 24 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. It was the fourth time the Wolverines had conquered the Saints during the 2019 season.
Bellevue head coach Steve Zakuani marveled at his team’s resolve following the most important win of the season to date.
“The mental strength it takes to beat a team four times can’t be understated. We outscored them 10-2 this season in a combined four games. It is the first time they’ve been here,” Zakuani said of the state semifinals. “To complete a clean sheet (shutout) and score two goals when we needed it, I couldn’t be more proud. It was great mental toughness.”
The Wolverines got on the board first when Ian Mahoney found the back of the net in the 18th minute, giving his squad a 1-0 lead. Mahoney’s hustle was evident on the score. Bellevue senior Sebastian Scrivner’s header shot on goal caromed off the crossbar and Mahoney followed Scrivner’s attempt with the clutch goal. The Wolverines added an insurance goal courtesy of Carson Wachter’s header goal off of a corner kick from Ryan Tobin in the 71st minute, extending the lead to 2-0.
“It was a great ball by Ryan Tobin,” Wachter said of the goal.
The insurance goal gave the Wolverines breathing room they didn’t have for the majority of the contest. Interlake had multiple opportunities to score late in the first half and early in the second half. Interlake’s best chance occurred in the 60th minute. Interlake senior Adrian Fleuchaus had a run toward the goal and was knocked down in the penalty box. No foul was called by the officials on the play.
Interlake senior Cameron Rao, who was a member of the 2016 Saints team that captured the state championship, was gracious in defeat.
“They’re a great team and they proved it today,” Rao said of Bellevue. “It is a little tough (the loss) but I still think it’s pretty cool that the younger guys on this team got to experience Sparks Stadium (site of the state semifinals/finals). They got to experience the atmosphere here.”
Tobin credited Zakuani for guiding his team to the proverbial mountaintop.
“We knew we could do it. We were confident. We just came out and played as hard as we could. We are going to the championship (game),” Tobin said. “It is incredible what he (Zakuani) has done for us and what he has done for the program. We’re happy he is on our side.”