EVERETT — While Lakewood soccer might not have been trying to win the league — their focus has been more on postseason than regular season laurels — the Cougars’ chances of upending Cedarcrest for the crown dimmed considerably with a 1-0 loss at Archbishop Murphy April 24.
The Wildcats went after the ball aggressively, apparently finding the net in the 28th minute as a kick flew just over Lakewood keeper Peter Karrenberg’s fingertips. However, the loft in question came from an awarded indirect kick, and as no player touched the ball, the goal was deemed void.
Archbishop Murphy quickly found another chance though and, a minute later, freshman forward Alexis Magana scored the decisive goal.
Lakewood coach Vaughn Vandelac said he hoped the loss would provoke the team to play their best soccer as the regular season winds down and districts approach.
“Maybe it’s good that we have a loss now, get our minds straight for the playoffs coming up,” he said. “We can’t lose anymore. We have to win Saturday (against South Whidbey) to clinch second place at least.”
Second place is a big deal for Lakewood, as the conference’s top two teams bypass a play-in game and go directly to the state tournament.
Vandelac was looking for more intensity from his team, and it showed on the field when Lakewood hosted South Whidbey two days later. Junior forward Evander Ochoa scored two goals as the Cougars defeated South Whidbey 5-1 and won that district slot.
“The practice the day before, we talked about playing pretty hard,” the coach said. “I moved one of my defenders (Eric Hawks) up front to see if he could help out on the forward end and that seemed to work out pretty well. He’s pretty relentless when he’s after the ball.”
With their standing in the league and seeding in the district secured, Vandelac said he hoped to use Lakewood’s season-ender, April 29, at Cedarcrest as a chance to try some new schemes.
“It doesn’t help our seeding at districts,” he said of the game that took place after The Globe went to press. “The motivation we have is to destroy their undefeated season.”