PASCO -- There isn't one single reason to explain Chiawana's unexpected run into the boys 4A state soccer playoffs.
There are, however, a lot of reasons why the Riverhawks could be one of the most dangerous teams moving forward into the postseason.
One of them is Chiawana midfielder Rene Solorio, who continued his outstanding play with a goal and an assist in a 3-0 win over Lewis & Clark in the first round of the 4A tournament at Chiawana High School.
Solorio's was one of several significant contributions in the Riverhawks' historic first trip to state.
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Chiawana's midfield outhustled and out-toughed the Tigers for 50-50 balls. The Riverhawks' defense locked in on the Tigers' top offensive threat -- forward Christian Foster -- and goalkeeper Javy Peralta made several clutch saves to record his sixth shutout of the season.
"It's hard to put into words. I don't want to say this feels euphoric, but at the same time I feel like we're really close to doing something really special," Chiawana coach Rich Zoller said. "Whatever happened between (a 3-0 district win at) Walla Walla and now I'm not sure, but tonight was probably our best game of the season."
The victory means the Riverhawks (10-7) will have to head back out on the road for Saturday's 4A quarterfinals, where they'll face defending state champion Stadium (14-3) -- a 1-0 winner over Ferris -- in Tacoma.
But it won't be Chiawana's first tough road trip. The Riverhawks have already faced down two tough playoff opponents -- defending CBBN champion Walla Walla and GSL co-champ Mead -- away from home.
"I've been very proud of everybody since the beginning," Solorio said. "Coach has been telling us to play our hardest, and we could win the whole thing."
Lewis and Clark, like its GSL counterparts, came in with a reputation for tough, physical play, but it was the Riverhawks who took it to the Tigers right away with a goal in the seventh minute.
"It was very physical. It's soccer, it has to be physical," Solorio said. "The tougher team will always win."
Solorio took a pass from Ariel Gonzalez on the right side of the LC goal, waited for a good bounce and pounded a shot into the left corner past Tigers goalie Cody Lang for a 1-0 lead.
Seven minutes later, Sam Nunez was there to clean up a rebound after a Solorio header just missed, giving Chiawana a 2-0 lead.
But Lewis and Clark came charging back with a flurry of shots, including a low shot by Cory Ames off a long throw in that looked like a certain goal. But Peralta came off his line, slid into Ames' path and stopped the shot.
What looked like an LC comeback quickly dissolved into despair in the 27th minute when Solorio stripped a Tigers' midfielder of the ball on defense and dribbled up the right sideline. He passed midfield and sent the ball into the middle for Killian Kammler, who took a couple of touches before chipping the ball over Lang for a 3-0 lead.
"They were putting some pressure on us, but I think Killian's goal really broke their back," Zoller said.
From there, it was Chiawana's defenders -- Humberto Chavez, Jairo Gonzalez, Alex Licon, Ramses Valdovinos and Lukas Rieke -- that kept the Tigers in check in front of Peralta.
"They weren't a bad team. They had some good players, but we did what we had to do to keep them down," said Peralta, who recorded nine saves. "If we keep up this work rate, we could go all the way."
The play got a little chippy in the final minutes. LC midfielder Jamal Angell was dribbling the ball up the left wing when Licon came in for a hard tackle and sent Angell flying. The angry Tigers' senior popped up and charged Licon, pushing him to the ground before being pulled away by teammates.
Angell was given a red card for his actions. Licon drew a yellow card for the foul.
But by that time, the game had been decided.
"We knew LC was going to be physical, just like the Mead game was physical with a lot of pushing and shoving," Zoller said. "The kids played aggressive, but not too aggressive. We didn't let LC push us around."
Scoring--1, C, Rene Solorio (Ariel Gonzalez), 7:00; 2, C, Sam Nunez, 14:00; 3, C, Killian Kammler (Solorio), 27:00. Shots--LC 16, C 20. Saves--LC, Cody Lang 7. C, Javy Peralta 9.