For the first time in Mt. Tahoma High School history, the T-Birds sent a boys’ soccer team to the state tournament. While not known as much of a soccer powerhouse over the years, the T-Birds have been getting stronger and more talented over the last five years. An exceptional regular season saw Mt. Tahoma finish 12-2-3 and in a prime position to advance out of the district tournament.

The only thing standing in the way for the T-Birds was a school with a serious, soccer pedigree.

It would be a battle of the birds, as the Peninsula Seahawks rolled across the Narrows Bridge to meet the T-Birds at Harry Lang Stadium on Saturday, May 12. The sun was high and the temperature was perfect for a high-energy match. A solid crowd was in attendance to root on their boys, and the vocal crowd was offered a nail-biter that went down to the final seconds.

Goals by seniors Raul Ramirez and Allan Hernandez would prove to be enough for the T-Birds in their 2-1 victory. Peninsula had a second-half goal wiped away due to an offside call that was about as close as a call can be. The referee added five minutes of stoppage time to the end of the match and it seemed as though it as more like 20 minutes. The crowd got louder, with both sides willing their team to a victory, or perhaps that equalizing goal to send the match into overtime.

A late Peninsula corner kick dropped right into the middle of the goal box. A T-Bird defender got a foot on the ball to clear it, but the ball ricocheted straight back toward the Mt. Tahoma goal. Luckily, sophomore goalkeeper Josiah Bowie was in between the two, and with both gloves wrapped around the ball, Peninsula’s last, best chance was nullified.

Despite finishing second in the 3A Pierce County League, the T-Birds were stuck with nothing better than a fifth-seed to the 3A state tournament. While many leagues and districts play actual mini tournaments to crown a district champion, the 3A West Central District metes out the seeds before hand. For instance, Gig Harbor, as league champions of the South Sound Conference, would be playing for the first seed to state. Meanwhile, Stadium, the 3A PCL champion, was relegated to the second-seed match.

Instead of matching up the league champions to decide upon the first and second seeding to state, the geniuses making up these ridiculous post-season formats penalized high-performing teams, yet again.

As the fifth seed out of the six from the district, the T-Birds would be facing a tall task in the first round of the state tournament. Not only would they be hitting the road, but they would also be facing the top-seed from District One.

This is what a second-place league finish and a district victory earns you in 2018.

The T-Birds were in trouble from the get-go against the Snohomish Panthers. The powerhouse from the north brought their offense to bear on Mt. Tahoma on Tuesday, May 15, dropping the upstart squad from Tacoma by a score of 7-2. Mt. Tahoma finished their best season in school history with a 12-3-3 record.

The district opener at Harry Lang Stadium was a showdown between the Wilson Rams and North Thurston. Despite their best efforts, Wilson was unable to find the back of the net. Meanwhile, North Thurston benefited from a ricochet that froze the Wilson keeper and found pay dirt. The 1-0 defeat ended a strong season from Wilson (9-6-2), just one win away from the big dance.

The first-round bug hit the Stadium Tigers, yet again. Despite a league championship and second seed out of districts, the Tigers proved to be no match for the Lakeside Lions from Seattle. Stadium trailed 3-0 at the half, and would go on to fall by a score of 5-1. It was a bitter finish to an outstanding season for a Stadium squad that finished the season with a 14-2-2 mark.

It wasn’t all bad news for local high school soccer teams in the various state tournament openers. Undefeated Franklin Pierce took their 17-0-2 record into the 2A state soccer tournament as the top-seed from the 2A West Central District. The Cardinals earned the top seed after a 1-0 victory over Highline in the district championship match.

They can’t seem to make it happen at the local 3A level, but the 2A folks have figured out how to crown a district champion. Hopefully they take note and make some changes next season.

The Cardinals hosted the East Valley Knights from Spokane on Tuesday, May 15, at Franklin Pierce Stadium. Goals by Gilbert De La Luz and Brayan Valladares-Salvador were all the Cardinals needed in their 2-1 victory. With the win, Franklin Pierce advances to the second round of the 2A tournament, where they will host the winner between R.A. Long and Sehome.

Another Franklin Pierce victory would send the Cardinals to the state semifinals at Sunset Stadium in Sumner on Friday, May 25.

As of this issue, the Fife Trojans (12-7-1) had yet to play Bellingham (17-0-1) in their state tournament opener.

Switching gears, the Lincoln Abes girls’ tennis team earned their second-straight 3A PCL league championship. However, the Abes were leapfrogged by the Stadium Tigers in the league tournament on Saturday, May 12.

Tacoma will be well represented at the 3A district tournament. In the doubles field, Lincoln’s Sabrina Lay and Emma Nguyen will play for a ticket to the state tournament along with Stadium’s Maggi Murphy and Diana Altman. In addition, Wilson will send Tiffany Shields and Quinn Harris to districts with Stadium earning the first-alternate team with Bianca Ponnekanti and Emma Jacobsen. Lincoln has the second-alternate team wih Kaiya Gunsauls and Kee’oni Tsosie.

It was a clean sweep for Tacoma in the singles department. Heading to districts are Stadium’s Cristina Garcia Prieto, Lincoln’s Melina Nguyen, Mt. Tahoma’s Vy Vu, Stadium’s Bella Neff, Lincoln’s Alina Kaminskaya and Mt. Tahoma’s Kaylin Phan. The singles alternates to districts are Lakes’ Geomari Nicolo and Wilson’s Kayla Ente.

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