As if any Sequim-Port Angeles game needs more than classic cross-region bragging rights, this game had some extra riding on it.
Seeking the Olympic League's 2A championship and No. 1 seed heading into Saturday's playoff game,
Sequim's Wolves shut down the hard-charging Roughrider offense - Sequim's sixth shutout in as many games - and got just enough offense in a 1-0 win at P.A.'s Civic Field on May 5.
Aldo Garcia scored 11 minutes into the second half off an assist from Gerry Azanza and keeper Matt Bedinger chalked up eight saves - a spectacular one coming with about seven minutes left - to give Sequim the big win.
The Wolves (9-2-1 in league play, 11-3-1) finish the regular season with 28 points, one more than 2A runner-up Kingston, and face the Washington Patriots on May 16 at Silverdale Stadium.
Sequim needed each and every point to capture that No. 1 seed and the Wolves clinched it by shutting down Port Angeles in the Roughriders' final home game. Port Angeles still was clinging to the hope of catching Bremerton for the Olympic League 3A division's second and final playoff seed.
"We kind of knew it was their senior night, (that) they still had a shot to edge out Bremerton for the second place and it was against
Sequim," Wolves' coach Dave Brasher said. "They were going to be fighting as hard as they could."
P.A. couldn't break through the stingy Sequim defense in the first half, but neither could the Wolves. Sequim looked to take an early lead when forward David LaBeaume broke through the Roughrider defense, seeking to add to his team-leading seven goals, but Port Angeles keeper Derek Walrath stuffed the attempt.
"P.A. is a hard-tackling team with some fast kids up front," Brasher said. "They try to push it through. We tried to move the ball quickly so their hard tackling would be neutralized."
After a scoreless first half, Sequim got on the board when Jose Najera won a ball in the middle and pushed it to Azanza, who found the streaking Garcia up the left side.
Garcia, a slight, left-footed midfielder, worked his way toward the goal and knocked it into the far post for his fourth goal of the season and his second game-winner in as many contests (Sequim beat Olympic 1-0 thanks to a Garcia score on April 27).
"(Garcia) plays pretty tough for a smaller kid, but he tackles hard and plays good from the midfield," Brasher said.
The Roughriders didn't give up without a fight, pressuring the Sequim defense with shots deep into the game. Bedinger's one-handed save helped preserve the Wolves' eight shutout overall in 2009.
Brasher credited defenders Najera, Austin Sanford, Bryan Little and Jordy Shearer for helping keep the proverbial slate clean.
"We didn't play our best
defense at the end but
they were really pressing,"
It was Sequim's ninth game with at least a win or tie against Port Angeles (8-0-1). The Wolves haven't lost to their green-and-white rivals since 2003.
Sequim now advances to the district playoffs, a tourney they missed out on last year.
After winning three consecutive district games to qualify for the class 3A state playoffs in 2004, the Wolves were eliminated in the district's first round in 2005 (4-1 to White River), 2006 (4-1 to Hazen) and 2007 (2-1 to Fife).
The path to the class 2A state playoffs is much simpler this time around: beat Washington (3-4, 7-7) on May 16, and the Wolves take a No. 1 seed into the state tourney's first round on May 19 against a No. 3-seeded team from the Cascade/Northwest bi-district.
Reach Michael Dashiell at firstname.lastname@example.org.