A young team can be a double-edged sword in the world of high school coaching.
It's often a euphemism for a team destined to have a long season. But in some of the luckier cases -- as with Mike Pardini's Pasco boys soccer club -- it can also mean a team with a very bright future.
The defending 4A state champion Bulldogs showed a glimpse of their lofty potential Saturday with a 3-0 win over visiting Richland in the CBL district semifinals at Edgar Brown Stadium.
"They're young, and they're still kind of learning," Pardini said. "It's difficult for high school kids to play a full 80 minutes, but they understand what it takes to prepare and execute."
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Antonio Barrera, one of just two seniors on the Pasco side, scored the game's first goal and assisted on the Bulldogs' second goal to set up a district final against Wenatchee at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Edgar Brown Stadium.
Both teams have qualified for regionals, and Tuesday's winner clinches a state berth.
"This was very important. We had to win this game to be in the district championship," said Barrera, a midfielder who scored his ninth goal of the year. "We play differently than we did last year. Last year we used two forwards, but this year we have one forward and two attacking midfielders."
This year, Pasco (12-2) won its first outright league title since 2002 -- the Bulldogs shared the CBL title with Davis last year -- but ended the regular season with a surprising 1-0 shootout loss to Moses Lake.
But Pardini, the 2007 4A Coach of the Year, wasn't too worried about going scoreless against a formidable Richland team.
"(The loss) was one of those things. We didn't play horrible, but we didn't finish opportunities," he said. "I wasn't too concerned, because we have guys like Acevedo and Barrera who know how to score."
Richland (7-8-1), which eliminated Moses Lake in the first round of districts with a 1-0 win Tuesday, was hoping to avenge a pair of regular-season losses to Pasco. But the Bulldogs controlled the tempo, outshooting the Bombers 16-6 and bottling up Richland's fleet-footed striker Joseph Pak.
"I thought we matched up with them well, but they came out with more intensity," said Richland coach Octavio Dovalle, who has several promising underclassmen of his own coming back next season. "We responded pretty well. I'm proud that our kids didn't give up."