The final week of the SPSL 4A began Monday night with a pair of high stakes matches coming down to stoppage time. Puyallup came in at the top of the standings with a 3 point lead over Curtis and 7 point lead over Sumner. But by the end of the night it could have finished in a 3-way tie. If Curtis beat Puyallup they would tie Puyallup at 37. Sumner had a chance to score as many as 6 against their cross division opponent Emerald Ridge but would need a minimum of a regular time win over the Jags to keep their title hopes alive as they get 4 points for a regular time 1 goal win in the cross-overs.

Meantime, Bellarmine took care of their business beating South Kitsap to further solidify their 4th place standing but can move up to 3rd with a win and a Curtis loss on Wednesday. Olympia kept their late season surge rolling and have wrapped up 5th place but will be a very dangerous team to have to face in the upcoming district tournament.

Below are all the Monday night scores, up to date standings and a brief update on the Sumner/Emerald Ridge match and our game coverage of the match of the night, Puyallup at Curtis.

Bellarmine 3, South Kitsap 0
Olympia 3, Graham-Kapwosin 2
Bethel 2, Rogers 0
Sumner 3, Emerald Ridge 2
Puyallup 2, Curtis 1


Team Points Played Pts. Rem Max pts Place
Puyallup 40 12 3 43 1
Sumner 37 12 3 40 2
Curtis 34 12 3 37 3
Bellarmine 33 12 3 36 4
Olympia 24 12 3 27 5
Bethel 18 12 3 21 6
Emerald Ridge 15 12 3 18 7
Graham-Kapowsin 15 12 3 18 7
Rogers 7 12 6 13 9
South Kitsap 1 12 6 7 10

Emerald Ridge at Sumner Game Re-Cap

It was simple, Sumner had to win in regulation against Emerald Ridge a team tied for 6th entering the match. Easy squeezy right? Nothing is easy in the SPSL 4A and the Jaguars were in no mood to hand over anything to anyone and certainly did not want to hand out 6 points in this cross-divisional game. 

Since it was a cross-divisional game the scoring is different with the winning team getting 4 points for a 1 goal regulation win, 5 points to win by 2 goals and 6 points to win by 3 or more. A tie would go to a shoot-out with the winning team getting 2 points and the losing team receving 1. This is not the time to discuss this bizarre system but this is the current reality and we’ll leave it at that.

Sumner trailed league leader Puyallup 37-33 so even if Puyallup won and the Spartans won in regulation they would gain a point and pull within 3 heading into the final match. If Puyallup lost they could pull into a tie with Puyallup and Curtis with the 4 point win. They could take over 1st place with a 2 or 3 goal win scoring 5 or 6 points.

The Puyallup/Curtis match began at 7pm and the Sumner/Emerald Ridge at 7:30pm so the Sumner coaching staff could be kept up to date on the progress of the Vikings vs Vikings match.

Sumner was not running away with this one against the Jags who were there to try to move up in the standings themselves but Sumner built a 2-1 lead and seeing Curtis’s 1-0 lead hold up well into the 2nd half likely had the Sumner contingent feeling pretty good.

But then all hell broke loose. Puyallup scored not once but twice in the final 10 minutes to take a 2-1 lead over Curtis and then held on for the win. 

Still, the Spartans needed just to hold onto this lead for the regulation win and they would trail Puyallup by 3 points going into the final night. Then if they could beat Curtis and Bellarmine upsets Puyallup they would tie the Vikings for the league title and they would get the top seed into districts because even though they split with Puyallup in the regular season the Spartans hold the aggregate goal lead which is the tie-breaker to determine seeding.

Then Emerald Ridge appeared to change all of it with a tying goal late in the match. A tie would mean Sumner could finish only with as many as 2 points and hand the title to Puyallup. The Spartans dug down and in stoppage time Reese Bywater knocked in the go-ahead and winning goal to give Sumner the critical points to pull within 3 of Puyallup.

This leaves the door open for Sumner to take the top seed and it all comes down to Wednesday night in the league regular season finale. The Spartans will be at Curtis on Wednesday with a 7pm kick-off. A win would cement 2nd place for Sumner, a loss if by just 1 goal would keep them as the 2 seed. 

Meantime, Bellarmine would love to get to the 3 seed and set their own tone going into post season with a huge win over Puyallup. Puyallup knows they only need to win or tie to clinch the league title and #1 seed. The Puyallup/Bellarmine match kicks off at 7:30 so they will be able to know the outcome at Curtis before their match is completed if they so choose.

Eli Sports will be covering both matches and both will be live streamed on the NFHS Network.

Puyallup at Curtis Game Story

(University Place, WA) In most soccer matches in the SPSL 4A are competitive, intense at times but always shared hugs and pictures post game with each other no matter who wins because most of the players are friends and have either competed against each other or with each for years. However, when the season is coming down to a couple of must-win matches for multiple teams there is a different vibe when they are warming up and when the match begins the intensity level is pegging from start to finish.

Then consider one of the oldest rivalries in the SPSL and a shared mascot the heat is turned up even more. When Puyallup arrived at Curtis High School Monday night it was all about winning this match. Puyallup came in at the top of the league standings with 37 points. Curtis was 2nd with 34 and Sumner in 3rd with 33. So if Curtis could beat Puyallup they would pull into a tie with Puyallup. The aggregate score would then be used to break the tie and Curtis had lost the 1st match 3-2.

As the match began Puyallup would press the offense and have several solid scoring chances but Curtis keeper Manny Zuniga shut down the Puyallup attempts with a solid backline of defenders especially Tyree Korolevu who had a spectacular save to deny Puyallup.

Curtis would flip the field about 10 minutes in and began attacking themselves led by the speedy Drew Castellanos who would break free and challenge the Puyallup backline and keeper, Alexis Cruz-Hernandez. Castellanos would team up with Aidean Kennard in the 16th minute. Castellanos broke free to the left of Cruz-Hernandez and shot but Crus-Hernandez was able to block it but could not secure it and the ball bounced out to Kennard who did not miss the empty net with Cruz-Hernandez still on the ground.

Curtis would have several more deep runs into the box and right in front of Cruz-Hernandez and the Puyallup defense but could not punch in a 2nd goal. Cruz-Hernandez had 8 saves in the 1st half and finished with 16 including a huge save in stoppage time just prior to the half to keep the game at 1-0 Curtis, going into the break.

Just prior to that save, Curtis’s Zuniga repelled Puyallup’s best attempt to tie the score in the 1st half with a huge save of his own. Curtis had the lead but certainly were not comfortable especially not being able to add to that lead despite the chances they had in the 1st half.

As the 2nd half began, emotions were running high and it didn’t help to have some fans standing near the sideline behind the fence cat-calling at the official to the point there was a 6-7 minute delay while school officials chased them into the stands. Why they weren’t booted from the game is unknown but they should have for causing such a delay. This wouldn’t be the last time emotions got away from some in this match, more on that in a moment.

As the 2nd half was being battled like the 1st half with tons of great defense on both sides it was looking better and better for Curtis to hold onto at least this 1-0 win. Puyallup did turn up the offensive pressure though and had taken control of field possession. Then in the 71st minute Puyallup finally found the crack they’d been waiting for off a corner kick. The entry lob dropped right in front of the goal and a tipped ball ended up right in front of Puyallup’s Liam Stoner who then flicked it to the right side of the goal and Zuniga had no chance of blocking it to tie the score 1-1.

Puyallup came into the match of course looking for a win because if they swept their final 2 matches no one could catch them. But at this stage of the match no doubt they would have been happy to pull out a tie with less than 10 minutes on the scoreborad to play. As the match entered a particularly long stoppage time due to the fan behavior, Puyallup took full advantage and it was once again Senior Liam Stoner with the gut punch to Curtis.

The dogged play of Stoner resulted in the ultimate game winning goal. On a long pass over the top of Stoner, Stoner didn’t simply give up on the ball as defender Josiah Strom went to take the long ball. As Stoner closed in, Strom tried to pull the ball back and get by Stoner instead of just clearing the ball out of bounds to settle the defense. Stoner took advantage of the mistake and had a wide open 1-on-1 with Zuniga and powered a shot past a diving Zuniga for the go-ahead and winning goal.

After taking the lead there was still several minutes of stoppage time. Emotions got heated as Curtis was upset when Puyallup defenders booted the ball deep out of bounds twice to burn the clock. The Curtis side felt the ball was out of bounds when the kicks ocurred and should have resulted in a yellow card. 

Despite that Curtis got the ball deep in Puyallup territory a couple of times and at one point Curtis’s Ethan Bell was taken down in the box but no call came from the official. The Curtis sideline was incensed and after time ran out with Puyallup celebrating their come from behind stunning win Bell let his feelings be known to the official who then gave Bell a post game red card. 

Curtis Coach Eddie Na also had had enough and approached the official to get an explanation on the late red card. Na was told by the official to not approach or he would also get a red card. After a warning Na turned to leave but added one last comment and the lead Official handed Na a Red Card. Unless there is some kind of appeal the red cards would normally mean neither Bell or Na could participate in Wednesday’s home match and regular season finale against Sumner.

Our NW Home Team “Takin’ it to the House” Play of the Game went to Alexis Cruz-Hernandez who had several plays but we thought keeping the score 1-0 with thast spectacular save late in the 1st half was huge. Our Thorbeckes MVP was easy, score the tying and winning goals in the final 10 minutes or so of the match will get you the MVP every time and that goes to Liam Stoner. 

To watch the full match you can do so on the NFHS Network (Subscription Required) at: https://www.nfhsnetwork.com/events/wiaa-district-iii-lakewood-wa/gama0860815ae

ESN Postgame Show


Video Highlights

Curtis scores first


Huge save by Curtis to keep score 1-0 in 1st half


Puyallup gets their own gigantic save to keep score 1-0


Puyallup ties it


Liam Stoner with the game winner


Photo Gallery


By paulb

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