Hoquiam took a big step toward solidifying its playoff position with a 2-0 win over Montesano on Friday in Hoquiam.
The Grizzlies are now tied for second in the 1A Evergreen league standings with Elma and can secure sole possession of second place if Hoquiam wins its final two games and the Eagles lose to Forks on Friday, May 3 in Forks.
Hoquiam had to juggle its lineup with five starters unavailable to play and looked for some of its bench players to fill the void.
Skyler Johnson was one of those players, thrusted into a starting role and came up with the opening goal in the 25th minute to give Hoquiam a 1-0 lead.
Johnson’s opening tally came when he controlled a bouncing ball that was played into the box and got his shot off from in close and put the ball past the goal-front traffic and into the net.
Hoquiam head coach Fidel Sanchez said he was impressed with the way his bench players stepped up and was particularly pleased with Johnson’s effort.
“He has the passion and the drive to fight for the ball,” he said. “That’s what I want to see from these guys. Today we finally showed that in the second half without our starters.”
Johnson said getting that first-half goal gave his team confidence for the rest of the match.
“When our team scores a goal we start getting confident and everyone starts playing better and gets less frustrated with each other,” he said.
Hoquiam converted on one of the few scoring chances it generated in a first half that saw each team put three shots on goal.
Montesano continued to struggle generating chances in the second half as well while the Bulldogs looked for the equalizer.
Bulldogs head coach Rick Denholm said he was frustrated that his players didn’t take advantage of some of the space available to them along the sidelines.
“We talked about getting our outside mids wide and close to the line because (Hoquiam) was playing with three backs and we wanted to get around them and they decided not to do that,” he said. “We just stayed inside and we kept on passing to one of the three defenders instead of going around.”
Montesano’s difficulty creating scoring chances was compounded by a goal in the 76th minute from Hoquiam’s Cameron Bumstead.
Bumstead beat Monte keeper Max Urbanski one-on-one on a shot to the keeper’s left to seal the victory for Hoquiam.
Bumstead said his team did well surviving Monte’s late-game push and keeping calm when the Bulldogs looked to send players on runs toward the box.
“Our backline played as a unit and they kicked the ball up and didn’t allow (Montesano) to get into their heads.”
While Hoquiam took a big step toward securing second place in the 1A Evergreen League while the loss puts Montesano in fourth place.
The Bulldogs’s last home game was set for Tuesday against Teninio. That game ended too late for this edition. Monte will remain in fourth place regardless of the outcome of the match.
Johnson said his team is in a good place but wants to see his teammates stay composed at the start of the game.
“We need to work on not yelling at each other and not getting down on each other to start the game. We also have to get better at getting off to faster starts,” he said.
Elma 3, Ilwaco 0
Elma used a trio of first-half goals to dispatch Ilwaco 3-0 on Friday, April 26, at Davis Field in Elma.
Elma scored on the very first play of the game where Rodrigo Luna crossed the ball to Manny Hernandez at the far post to the Eagles up 1-0 in the first minute of action.
The Eagles struck again in the sixth minute when Lenny Feldhoff scored off of a corner kick from Cannon Seaberg to push the lead to 2-0.
Elma’s offense hit a bit of a dry spell until the final minutes of the first half where Alexis Bautista scored off of a rebound from a Rene Durand shot to cap off the scoring.
Elma head coach Carson Seaberg said he wanted to see his team do a better job of finishing on scoring opportunities, but is pleased with how the unit is gelling late in the season.
“We’re young so every game, no matter who we play, it’s about us learning to play high school level soccer,” he said. “The guys are talented individually and we’re getting better and better at playing together.”
Elma gets some time off before finishing its season with a 6 p.m. road game against Forks on Friday.