Safe to say that things haven’t turned out exactly the way the Kamiakin boys soccer team thought this season.
In fact, after three consecutive wins to end the regular season, things could be even better than the Braves could have imagined.
After sweeping both games against Mid-Columbia Conference champion Kennewick and an impressive 1-0 shutout of league contender Hanford on Tuesday night, there may not be a more dangerous team in a big game than Kamiakin.
After all, this is virtually the same team that upset Pasco in the CBBN district opener last season. This year, the Braves may be looking for a deeper run after rallying to finish in a tie for second in the MCC at 9-5.
“We’ve just progressed throughout the season, and we started to get our feet under us,” Kamiakin coach Jeff Bennett said. “Beating Kennewick was an indication of what we could do. If we were just lucky, we probably wouldn’t have done it twice.”
On Tuesday, Kamiakin (9-6) will open the District 5/8 Tournament on the road against the No. 2 seed out of the Greater Spokane League, to be determined Friday.
Bennett, a Braves graduate and youth minister at South Hills Church in Kennewick, credits his team for overcoming some early personnel losses and rallying with inspired play.
“There was some speculation about how the season would go. I was hoping we would surge again,” he said. “But the last couple years, we’ve had a lot of training to prepare for the playoffs. That’s given the team a lot more fight going into the postseason.”
Sophomore Ty Wallin leads Kamiakin with four goals, and junior Jose Anguiano is third in the MCC with four assists. Sophomore goalkeeper Riley Shulman has started every conference game and sports a 1.05 goals-against average to go with four shutouts.
Also in the 3A tournament Tuesday, Kennewick (12-3) will host North Central. Hanford (10-6), the No. 2 seed, hosts the GSL No. 3 seed, and the GSL top seed will host Saturday’s Southridge-Sunnyside winner.
Class 4A: The 4A playoffs are already underway, and Walla Walla struck the first blow with a 2-1 road win Tuesday at Chiawana.
The Blue Devils endured a tough regular season at 3-11, finishing seventh out of eight MCC teams, but they are rallying at the right time with three victories in their last four games.
“You like to be cocky and confident, but I’m not sure we can afford to be,” Wa-Hi coach Mike Washington said. “It’s really funny, we had a couple years where we were a higher seed and got knocked out early. Maybe this is an omen. You might never see Walla Walla atop the league if that’s the case.”
He was joking about the last part, of course, but his comment speaks to the parity of the MCC this year, in which no team was ever guaranteed a win.
Washington — who doubles as the Whitman College men’s coach — is cautiously optimistic about today’s matchup against Pasco (7 p.m., Edgar Brown Stadium). Wa-Hi lost both regular-season matches against the Bulldogs, but both were decided by a single goal. The winner gets a crack at Richland (10-5) for the MCC 4A district championship at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Despite winning just one of their first 11 MCC games, Washington feels confident that the Blue Devils are ready for the postseason.
“We’ve got to take that moving forward. We match up well with a lot of teams,” he said. “In theory, when you’re higher up in the league, there’s an expectation for you to win. I’d much rather play a team at the top than at the bottom. A team at the top has everything to lose.”