A week ago, Hazen High School was licking their wounds after a 3-0 loss to Decatur in a North Puget Sound League (NPSL) seeding game. The loss put Hazen into a loser out game against Camas – one of Southwest Washington’s most successful soccer programs. Now they’re celebrating a spot in the 4A state championship tournament.
Saturday, May 11, Hazen faced a loser out winner to state rematch with Decatur. Gabe Brown took a through pass from Sam Holbrook to open the scoring nine minutes into the game. That lead stayed in place for nine minutes until Decatur pounced on a loose ball in the box to even it up. The 1-1 score line stayed in place for the rest of the first half, the entire second half and both golden goal overtime periods.
“We picked the two hottest days of the year to play the longest games. Thursday (May 9) we scored with less than two minutes in the second overtime against Camas to advance,” said Hazen Coach Ken Matthews. “(Saturday, May 11), it’s penalty kicks.”
Matthews knows he has a little magic in his hip pocket when it comes to penalty kicks; Keeper Yesmin Rivera.
“One day at practice, we were doing (penalty kicks). We shot at Yesmin 24 times and he guessed right every single time. That’s a crazy stat to wrap your mind around, but he did it,” Matthews said.
That ability to read the kick taker came in handy on Saturday. Decatur led off the penalty kick session and Rivera’s dive blocked their opening shot. Hazen’s first shooter Jake Kraemer made his shot. On Decatur’s second shot Rivera got a hand on the ball before trickling in. Jason Buezo scored on Hazen’s second shot. Rivera saved Decatur’s third shot and Abraham Toj made his. Decatur scored on their next shot, but as usual Rivera guessed right. Sam Holbrook hit his shot giving Hazen the win and a place in The Dance.
Hazen played Jackson High School from Mill Creek in the first round of state on Tuesday, May 14.
“We’re banged up, hot and tired. But knowing these guys, I think they’ll forget all that on Tuesday. They’ve met every challenge thrown at them and now they’re in a pretty elite group of 16 team still playing,” Matthews said.