PUYALLUP — The Wenatchee High School soccer team won a co-league and district championship and was on a six-game winning streak before earning the ninth seed in their ninth state tournament appearance. Wednesday night, in the opening round, they met the eighth seed — the Puyallup Vikings — in a loser-out game.
Wenatchee (12-5-1) was the first to strike but Puyallup (12-3-2) found the equalizer before halftime and despite creating quality opportunities after their first goal, Wenatchee couldn’t find the game-winner in the second half or two overtimes. It forced a shootout.
Puyallup outscored Wenatchee 5-3 to seal the win, 2-1, ending the Panther’s impressive season. It was the first time the two teams had played each other in Wenatchee’s 37-season history and their 50th opponent.
“We played well,” said Wenatchee head coach Dennis Tronson. “We’re disappointed we didn’t get the win after creating all those opportunities but it was there. It was a great high school soccer match. Puyallup’s a good team.”
Anthony Garcia scored the first goal in the 28th minute. He had the ball in the box and threaded it through a tight angle from 12 yards out to gain the lead. Puyallup countered 11 minutes later when a Viking, on a dead sprint, connected mid-stride on a corner kick, cracking the ball into the net.
After their only goal, Wenatchee had another opportunity that skimmed off of the crossbar. It was their only clean look as they continued to create and watched as Puyallup routinely booted the ball downfield hoping to connect with a breaking forward.
Wenatchee was down their seasoned midfielder, Julian Reyes, due to injury since their district match with Eastmont. A couple of Panthers were also playing through illness.
“That really affected us,” Tronson said.
While on their win streak, Wenatchee outscored their opponents 24-4 and with all their state appearances over the years, Wenatchee now has a 10-10 state record. They won the state championship in 2016 and took fourth in 2015 and 2022.
The team will graduate 10 seniors. Those athletes are Koren Collier, Gabriel Mata, Emanuel O-Campo, Ben Marchant, Alex Sanchez, Pierre Vega, Julian Reyes, Callen Zumach, Bram Meinders and Pedro Vero Rocha.
“The seniors set the standard,” Tronson said. “They grew from a two-week COVID season as freshmen to five weeks as sophomores, and to a full season as juniors who made the final four. This year they fought through illness and injuries to compete and make it happen.”
That leaves a large void to fill. One Tronson is familiar with but already he sees a talented group eager and ready to step into those open roles. Four freshmen now have varsity state tournament experience.
“I look forward to what the table brings next year,” Tronson said. “They’re all in.”
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