Garfield's Nate Stroum scored on a free kick two minutes into overtime to give the Bulldogs a 1-0 win over Woodinville in last Monday's KingCo playoff game at Pop Keeney Stadium. The loss ended Woodinville’s season as the Falcons finished with a 9-6-2 record. The nine wins tripled the win total from the 2013 season, as part of Woodinville coach Nathan Davis’s rebuilding plan.
“We were ready, we were excited,” Davis said. “There were nerves for sure because no one had been in that position before and they didn't know how to handle it. But we tried to keep it laid back and fun and I think everyone was confident. It just didn’t break our way. We hit the post a couple of times and missed a couple opportunities to take the lead.”
Through regulation the game was an evenly played match. Neither team dominated offensively as most of the action transpired between the 30-yard lines and few shots on goal took place. Missing from action for Woodinville was second team All-KingCo selection Eric Urstad, who was at a DECA competition.
The competitiveness of the game made it a physical one, including an injury to Falcon Isaac Bailey, who suffered a gash to the head and was forced to sit out much of the second half.
It was near the end of regulation that adversity struck the Falcons.
“Victor Ramirez got fouled at the 18 [yard line] and the ref didn't call it,” Davis said. “About three minutes into overtime the exact same thing happened to their team in front of our box and the ref called it. Which made me more than upset about it. It gave their kid [Stroum] a free kick, and their kid hit an absolutely perfect shot."
Stroum’s perfect shot managed to skirt past Woodinville goalie Ryan Christensen, who was playing his first season of soccer after winning a second consecutive state championship in wrestling this past winter.
“I felt so bad, especially for Ryan, who has done so well for us this year and kept us in so many games,” Davis said. “For it to end like that was unfortunate.”
48 hours after the defeat, the pain was still evident in Davis’s voice. He was asked to single out players for their performances this season.
“Ionatan [Kuperwajs] got first team All-KingCo and Eric Urstad was second team,” Davis said. “And I think Eric got robbed on that, he should have been first team for sure.
“Ryan in his ability to learn how to be a [goal]keeper, which is impressive all in itself,” Davis said. “And I would like to single out Cole Grimsby, a sophomore outside defender. He’s just a fantastic player. He’ll probably end up playing for the Sounders next year, which is unfortunate for us. But he was a real gift to have this year.
“You’ve written about Tate [Nordhoy], who is another good guy, and just a general workhorse. And between Cole and Trevor Dickey, those guys only sat for about five minutes all season. Both those guys are dedicated and hard working. They’re part of the team you don’t hear too much about but that are very important to us."
Davis paused for a moment when asked to assess the season.
“Right now it’s hard to,” he said. “...In a week or two the kids will look back at the season very fondly. At least that’s what I hope they do, because that’s the way I will look at it. It’s the beginning of exactly what we wanted to do as a team.”