A shorthanded Redmond took advantage of a flat-footed Gulls team as Grays Harbor fell 3-0 at Stewart Field in Aberdeen on Saturday.
The loss adds a lot of pressure to the Gulls’ last fixture of the season against Snohomish at Lakewood High School on July 13, where Grays Harbor will have to win to avoid being relegated to Division 2 in the 2020 season.
Grays Harbor’s defense faltered early in the contest as crossfire forward Guillermo Llamas made it past three Gulls fullbacks and sneaked a shot just under the crossbar to give Redmond the lead in the fifth minute.
Redmond’s early success came despite an absence of subs. Crossfire only had 11 players available for the match and had to play long stretches of the first half down a man when one of their players was temporarily sidelined with injury.
Redmond team captain Tor Mana’o said he was pleased to see his team get on the board early despite the game plan calling for a conservative approach.
“We were definitely more reserved to start the game. We had a few guys missing and a few guys forgot shoes, so we just had to figure it out as the game went on.”
Offense was limited for both sides for the rest of the first half with the Gulls struggling to take advantage of their opponent that played 15 minutes with 10 players.
Grays Harbor head coach Drew Grannemann took some responsibility for not having his players locked in before the match started.
“You want to have a focused mindset as soon as you get to the field, and I put that on myself to make sure guys are focused in warm-ups,” he said. “I don’t think I did a good job reinging everyone in on the goal of today, which was to walk away with three points against a team that’s at the top of the table.”
Grannemann urged his team to be aggressive when he talked to his players at halftime and the Gulls appeared to respond early in the second half.
Grays Harbor put three shots on target in the first 15 minutes after the break. Alex Pugadelaosa had one of the best chances to tie the game when he went on a run past a defender, but the keeper got just enough of his toe on the ball to force a corner kick.
The Gulls forced six corner kicks in the match but failed to convert on any of them.
Crossfire had two corners in the game and converted on its second corner kick in the 78th minute. Llamas tallied his second goal of the match off the corner kick when he corralled a bouncing ball played into the box and beat Gulls keeper Alexis Garcia low to the near post.
Grannemann was visibly upset on the sideline and loudly chastised his defenders for watching the play develop instead of marking up.
“With the first goal of the day and the second one especially, there was no effort. The focus wasn’t there, the work rate wasn’t there,” Grannemann said. “When you stand back and watch two players go in front of you, the ball is going in the back of the net.”
With the outcome decided, Redmond added another goal on a penalty kick when a a Redmond forward was taken down in the box.
Michael Telman converted on the penalty kick in the 83rd minute to round out the scoring for the day.
A win on Saturday would have guaranteed safety for the Gulls, but the team will be relegated if they lose their next match and Federal Way defeats Nido Aguila on July 21.
Nido Aguila Seattle is currently third in the Western Washington Premier League with 18 points while Federal Way is seventh and one point behind Grays Harbor.
Grannemann said he’s not interested in doing any scoreboard watching the last weeks of the season and just wants his team to decide things on the field.
“What we want to put our destiny in our own hands. We don’t want to rely on anyone else for our own success,” he said.