ROYAL CITY — It didn’t take long to establish supremacy on the pitch in Royal City Thursday night as the Knights struck early and often in a 4-0 win over the Valley Rangers in a game that was halted by lightning in the second half.
Michael Rojas got things rolling for Royal when he rocketed a shot past the Naches keeper at the 6:39 mark of the contest. Abraham Medina assisted on the score.
Back-to-back unassisted goals by Alex Contreras at 12:24 and 16:38 sent the teams to the break with the Knights up top 3-nil.
Royal owned the majority of possession the first 40 minutes of the fuss; mainly attributed to a stellar defensive effort by the home team that allowed just one shot on frame from the Valley Rangers. Naches only real scoring threat in the first half of action came off a penalty kick that was rejected by the Knights keeper CJ Quintero.
The Knights picked up where they left off in the first half with an early second half goal by Juan Ojeda of an assist from Rojas.
Threatening skies rolled in about for minutes later and with lighting striking in the area the match was halted at the 52:28 mark and Royal was awarded the win.
“This match was a strange one right from the start. Naches was late due to bus trouble and then there were disagreements about where the visiting bench should be,” coach Jens Jensen said. “We had a couple of defensive mistakes late in the half — one in which Naches was awarded a penalty from a foul by our goalkeeper, but he fixed his mistake by stopping the penalty attempt.”
“The second half was going well for us before the match was called. Michael found the head of Juan Ojeda on a free kick, and Naches went down to 10 men after No. 13 (Nick Berge) was shown a second yellow.”
The win set up a grudge match with East Conference rival Wahluke Tuesday. The teams split matches during the regular season. The Warriors beat the Knights 1-0 in Royal early in the season. The Knights returned the favor taking down Wahluke 2-1 on the Warriors home turf in late April.
The winner of the contest advances to the district championship game and will receive an automatic berth to State win or lose. The loser of the match between the Knights and Warriors will play for third place and have a chance to move on to the state tournament.
Results of the fuss between Royal and Wahluke were unavailable at press time.