On the same turf Aberdeen celebrated a league title on 10 days earlier, Capital celebrated a district tournament win that eliminated the same Bobcats from postseason play on Thursday.
The Cougars played a step ahead of the Bobcats throughout the match, gaining their first goal on a rocket shot and an insurance goal on the counter-attack to secure a 2-0 win in this District IV 2A loser-out boys soccer match at Stewart Field.
Aberdeen, the Evergreen 2A champion that defeated Capital, 5-1, to win that title, saw its season end at 13-4. Capital will take on Centralia on Saturday in a winner-to-state match.
“What was great was we went down 2-0 and we played hard through the final seconds,” AHS head coach Larry Fleming said. “There was great hustle, everyone went after it and that’s tough to do when you know you are probably done. Possession-wise, Capital played great, passed the ball around. We just couldn’t put the score on in the last couple of games like the other teams did. We had our chances.”
Capital controlled possession and pace throughout the match, making Aberdeen chase and run. The Bobcats settled in with a solid defensive performance in the first half, limiting the Cougars to just long-range shots that didn’t threaten.
Offensively, Aberdeen was not the same as it was earlier this season — even where it was on Tuesday. Senior forward Juanito Lopez played with a taped-up knee and essentially played on one leg. Other Bobcats were slowed by injuries as well, giving Fleming a M*A*S*H unit to juggle on the bench.
“Possession-wide, they outplayed us,” Fleming said. “Scoring chance-wise, they didn’t. We had lot of chances, a couple we could have scored on. You could tell Juanito was playing at about 50 percent. We are banged up. We had guys falling left and right and Trinity (Parris, the team’s trainer) patched us up and got us back out there. She saved us. I wasn’t even doing strategy, it was which guys were healthy and can they play.”
Against a faster Capital squad, Aberdeen couldn’t keep up.
The Cougars got a bit of offensive magic in the 32nd minute. With the ball just outside of the penalty area, Capital’s Nick Boatright unleashed a rocket shot from the right side and hit the upper left corner for the marker.
The goal gave Capital life, feeding a few more runs and chances at Aberdeen goalkeeper Andres Valdes and his defense. At halftime, Capital bounded and Aberdeen walked off the field.
In the second half, the Bobcats shuffled their lineup — putting speedy defender Titus Phillips up front with Lopez on the bench getting his knee re-taped — and played the Cougars evenly. However, Capital’s defense became a nine-man wall of ice, repelling every Aberdeen run 25 yards from goal.
With Aberdeen pressing and Capital repelling, the counterattack came into play. The Cougars took advantage in the 56th minute on a long clearance ball controlled by Aiden Klemmer.
Klemmer held up play just inside the penalty area long enough to flick the ball to Apollo Heidal on an overlapping run. Heidal took one step to clear himself, then beat Valdes one-on-one for the goal, giving Capital an impenetrable two-goal advantage.
Aberdeen continued to send waves of runs into Capital’s now 10-man defensive front for the remainder of the match, picking up some dangerous chances from Lopez, Juan Oropeza, Phillips and Blake Liscombe in the final five minutes of the match.
Aberdeen’s Alex Barene and Capital’s Benedikt Thurnher each picked up yellow cards during the first half, while Fleming earned a yellow card midway through the second half.
Fleming thanked the support from Aberdeen fans in this match and for the season, cited Lopez and Oropeza for their efforts this season and in their careers at Aberdeen and thanked assistant coach Alfie Bensinger for his work as well.