One and Done in the Playoffs
Wenatchee Valley 2 Highline 1 (double overtime)
Nov. 6 – For most men’s soccer teams in the Northwest Athletics Conference, a 7-4-1 league record and a trip to the playoffs would be considered a very successful year. But by the high standards the Highline program has set over past years, the 2-1 first round loss to Wenatchee Valley in double-overtime can only seem a disappointment. It was a hard-fought contest that saw Wenatchee Valley take the lead at 46 minutes after a scoreless first half on an unassisted goal by Luis Navarrete. Highline’s Cris Garfias-Lozano tied the score on a penalty kick at 78 minutes. That ended the scoring through the end of regular time and the first overtime. The match ended when with a couple of minutes left in the second overtime midfielder Alex Medina of Wenatchee Valley took advantage of a scramble in front of the Highline goal and scored the game winner. And with that goal Highline’s season was over.
The loss marked the final matches for the sophomores, led by Alex Weaver, Gauoussou Doucoure, Nestor Quijada, and Augie Estrada. Head Coach Steve Mohn will need to replace such standouts but after playing this year with a freshman laden roster gaining valuable experience, Highline should be bringing back an abundance of match-tested players for the 2020 season.
Freshman David Avila will be a key returnee for the Thunderbirds.
The Thunderbirds host Wenatchee Valley on Nov. 6 at 2pm in the first round of the NWAC Men’s Soccer Championship. The contest will be at the Starfire Soccer Complex (Tukwila, WA). Highline (7-4-1 league, 8-6-1 season), finishing second in the NWAC West Division faces a Wenatchee Valley team (6-3-3 league, 7-4-4 season) which finished third in the NWAC East Division. If they win, the T-Birds will move on to play on the road in the quarterfinals on Nov. 9.
Highline enters the playoffs led in scoring by Oscar Guzman (4 goals, 6 assists) and with Alex Weaver (3 shutouts) in goal.
Oscar Guzman leads the Highline offense as it moves into the playoffs.
Sophomore Alex Weaver has started every match in goal for Highline.
Tough Loss to Tacoma
Oct. 26 – Highline is in the playoffs so there may have been a little less of a sting in the Thunderbirds losing to the visiting Tacoma Titans 2-1 in Highline’s final match in the regular season. With the loss the team finishes 7-4-1 in league play, good for 2nd place in the NWAC West Division. Tacoma, with one match remaining, stays a perfect 11-0-0 in league play, taking the NWAC West Division title.
The Titans took early control of the match, scoring at 2 minutes from a goal by Gilbert Da La Luz (assist to Jesus Flores). With Tacoma controlling the game in terms of possession and territory, it managed a second goal at 40 minutes by Luka Cecic (assist to Masa Fukushima). Highline tightened the contest with a goal by Gaoussou Doucoure (assist to Jesus Jeronimo) at 47 minutes but could not quite score the equalizing goal. Now the team prepares for a first round match with the opponent yet to be determined.
Guillermo Llamas prevents a Tacoma goal following a save by keeper Alex Weaver.
TK Saffold fights for ball possession against Tacoma’s Jose Ramirez.
Clinching a Playoff Spot
Oct. 23 Highline 2 Pierce 0
Jesus Geronimo scored twice at a symmetrical 26 minutes and 52 minutes to give the Thunderbirds a 2-0 win over the Pierce Raiders. Alex Weaver recorded the shutout in goal. The win ensures Highline a playoff spot with one match left in the regular season as the team hosts Tacoma on Oct. 26. Overall, Highline is 8-5-1 for the season and 7-3-1 in league play, firmly in second place in the NWAC West Division.
With the pair of goals Geronimo now has six for the season, leading the team, and with 13 points is one behind team leader Oscar Guzman (4 goals, 6 assists). The shutout was the third for Weaver, who has started every game in goal for the T-Birds.
Highline freshman forward David Avila against Pierce College.
Narrow Loss to Bellevue
Bellevue 2 Highline 1
Oct. 19 – a lot of men’s soccer teams in the Northwest Athletics Association would be just fine with a record of 7-5-1 for the season and 6-3-1 in league play. For Highline, used to the rarefied air of being one of the league’s elite team, it has so far been a rather pedestrian year. With a chance to gain ground on the solidify its playoff position, the Thunderbirds fell to the 4-7-3 Bellevue Bulldogs in an away match. Highline had its scoring changes, putting eight shots on goal, but Bellevue keeper Tanner Guirsch managed to keep the T-Birds at bay. Jesus Geronimo had Highline’s sole goal at 20 minutes, sandwiched between Bulldog goals by Masahiko Kaneko (3 minutes) and Giovani Perez (21 minutes).
The team gets a chance to regroup and get back on the win track as it hosts PIerce on Oct. 23.
Demasting the Clipppers
Highline 4 South Puget Sound 0
Oct. 16 – the match was scoreless for 60 minutes and then Highline went on a scoring binge. Goals by Jesus Jeronimo (60 minutes), David Avila (83 minutes), Chris Gonzalez (86 minutes) and Greg Romero (89 minutes), all unassisted, gave the visiting Thunderbirds the win. Highline keeper Alex Weaver had an easy time in recording the shutout, having to stop only one Clipper shot on goal.
Jesus Geronimo had goals in Highline’s win over South Puget Sound and loss to Bellevue.
Tough Loss: Tacoma Nudges Past Highline
Tacoma 1 Highline 0
Oct. 10 – Tacoma’s Masa Fukushima converted a penalty kick at 76 minutes for the only score of the match as the Tacoma Titans eked out a 1-0 win over Highline. With the loss the Thunderbirds fall to 5-2-1 in league play and in second place in the NWAC West Division behind top-ranked Tacoma (7-0-0 in league). The team gets a week off for rest and practice before traveling to South Puget Sound to take on the Clippers on Oct. 16.
Highline keeper Alex Weaver punches the ball out off a Tacoma corner in the second half against the Titans.
A Tie Against Pierce
Highline 1 Pierce 1
Oct. 5 – Highline dominated the statistics but couldn’t make it count on the scoreboard as the Thunderbirds left Pierce with a 1-1 tie. Gaoussou Doucoure scored for the T-Birds at 25 minutes, just two minutes after Pierce’s Andrew Irby got the match’s first goal. It came off one of Pierce’s three shots for the entire contest, while Highline tallied 19 shots. Another indication of how the T-Birds controlled the match was the fact that it had 10 corners to 1 for Pierce. However, it is the number of goals that count and in that area, Highline could only match Pierce.
Highline next hosts Tacoma on Oct. 9 at the Starfire Soccer Complex. Tacoma leads the NWAC West Division with a 6-0-0 league record while Highline is in second place in the division at 5-1-1.
Gauoussou Doucoure scored Highline’s only goal against Pierce.
Slipping Past the Clippers
Highline 2 South Puget Sound 1
Sept. 28 – Highline improved to 5-3-0 for the season and 4-1-0 in conference play with a 2-1 win over the visiting South Puget Sound Clippers. All scoring happened in the first half, with the Thunderbirds getting goals from Reis MacNeill (10 minutes) and David Avila (37 minutes) while the Clippers’ sole goal was by Dominic Ceu Bik at 40 minutes. Alex Weaver recorded the win in goal for the T-Birds.
While the score indicated a close match Highline dominated the statistical categories, outshooting South Puget Sound 15-5 and dominating corner kicks 11-1.
Reis MacNeill (here against Tacoma) scored the first goal against South Puget Sound in Highline’s 2-1 victory.
Tough Times at Tacoma
Tacoma 4 Highline 2
Sept. 18 – Highline traveled to undefeated Tacoma and couldn’t overcome a quick two goal deficit, falling to the Titans 4-2. Tacoma’s Masa Fukushima scored at 10 minutes, followed by Marcus Swanson adding a second goal at 17 minutes. Highline crept to within one on a goal by Oscar Guzman at 33 minutes to end the first half scoring. In the second half Gezim Konjuhi of Tacoma scored at 55 minutes to give the Titans a 3-1 lead. The Thunderbirds’ Kadir Mechehat scored to cut the deficit back to a single goal but the team would not score again, with Tacoma’s Gilbert Da La Luz icing the win with a goal at 90 minutes,
With the loss Highine falls to 3-1-0 in the NWAC West Division (4-3-0 season), in second place behind division leading Tacoma (3-0-0, 6-0-1).
Oscar Guzman scored his fourth goal of the year in the loss at Tacoma.
Bludgeoning the Bulldogs
Highline 9 Bellevue 1
Sept. 11 – Highline scored its first goal at 4 minutes and its last goal at 88 minutes, and did a lot of scoring in between at the T-Birds crunched the Bellevue Bulldogs. With the win Highline improves to 2-0-0 in league (3-2-0 season)while Bellevue stands at 0-2-0 league (1-4-1 season).
Joel Lozano got the scoring going with his first goal of the match at 4 minutes, assisted by the first of three assists by Oscar Guzman. Lozano then scored unassisted at 8 minutes. He was one of three T-Birds with two goals, joined by Guzman and Khai Brisco. Nestor Quijada, Kadir Mechehat, and Chris Gonzalez also scored. Giovani Perez got Bellevue’s lone goal at 20 minutes.
Highline next takes on Pierce College at the Starfire Soccer Complex on Sept. 14.
Oscar Guzman (left) passes to Chris Gonzalez for a first half goal against Bellevue. Guzman had three assists to go with two goals.
Early Season Update
The Highline Men’s Soccer team visited South Puget Sound on Sept. 7 and came away with a 2-0 win. Team finds itself at 2-2-0 after four early season contests. Oscar Guzman scored the first goal unassisted at 39:26 and Reis MacNeill, assisted by Chris Gonzalez, capped the scoring at 73:58. Alex Weaver recorded the shutout in goal.
The team next hosts Bellevue on Sept. 11 at the Starfire Soccer Complex, followed by another home match on Sept. 14 against Pierce College.
Alex Weaver recorded the shutout against South Puget Sound.