SUMNER — Senior Michael Rojas scored a goal in each half and Royal beat Seattle Academy 2-1 to place third in the 1A Boys Soccer Championship held at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner over the weekend.
Royal got on the board early when Rojas got a shot past the Academy keeper off assists from Carlos and Lizandro Hernandez at the 8:24 mark.
Seattle’s Adrian Valentine, off a Max Malakoff assist, leveled the match just under 26 minutes into the contest.
The score held up and the teams went to the break knotted 1-1.
Rojas got the game winner off a Miguel Torres assist at 54:09 and the Knights ended their most successful season to date.
“After Friday’s loss to Wahluke in the semifinal match, we got ourselves organized and focused up on handling the business of winning the consolation game. We faced a Seattle Academy side who didn’t give us much respect so it was nice to get the job done,” Knights coach Jens Jensen said. “Michael endured another match of being hammered at every turn, but in his typical way, he stayed fully composed and focused on the job and he got his rewards.”
The goal from the Academy was the first given up by Knights keeper Ty Miller since April 20.
“Seattle Academy has an industrious forward who has great speed and a good shot with both feet and he was able to do something that nobody had been able to do in more than a month…score a goal on Ty,” Jensen said. “He turned in on his left foot and hit a low curler that kissed the far post on its way in. It had to be perfect because an inch closer to Ty and he would have pushed it wide.”
Miller had four save in the game. The Knights outshot Seattle 20-11, with 11 kicks on the mark.
The third place finish was not what Royal had its sites sent on, but placing among the top three in the state is pretty impressive.
“Third place is not what we were after, but this is the most successful season for our program,” Jensen said. “We have finished third twice before, but in those seasons we never won both the league and district titles, so on the whole we are extremely pleased with this campaign as we finish with both of those honors.”
It took two overtime periods and a shootout to determine the winner of the Wahluke-Royal semifinal match. And it was all said and done, the Warriors converted 4-of-7 shots to the Knights three and advanced to the Championship game with Overlake.
“We faced similar tactics to what we had been seeing over the last month with Wahluke trying to physically take Michael Rojas out of the match and being compact defensively,” Jensen said. “In previous matches we always were able to find the goal that we needed, but in this match it didn’t come. We had a number of great chances, but the shot came off the woodwork, missed the target, or tamely found its way to the Wahluke goalkeeper.”
Wahluke only got off six shots in the match and none were on frame. Torres led the Knights 23-hit attack with seven, Rojas convert 2-of-5 shots on goal for Royal.
The Knights lose three starters to graduation in Michael Rojas, Alex Delgado and Juan Ojeda, and three nonstarters in Isaac Ellis, Elber Padilla and Irving Quintero.
”These graduates open up a left defender position and two in the midfield,” Jensen said. “But we are confident that we have players that will step up and do the job as required to keep our program competitive.”