Keilor Cacho Garcia takes on a Stadium defender. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Keilor Cacho Garcia takes on a Stadium defender. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Royals soccer sent home in whirlwind of a second half

Kent-Meridian loses to Stadium 3-1, allowed three goals in six minutes in second half.

After a miraculous postseason a year prior, the Kent-Meridian Royals boys soccer team looked to repeat that success this season. The Royals won the league this year, snapping a state tournament drought the year before that had been in place since 1980 — and it seemed like the Royals were a sure shot to make the state tournament once again.

The reality was much harsher than the Royals could ever realize. Kent-Meridian was eliminated from the postseason following a 3-1 loss to Stadium High School at Auburn Memorial Stadium on May 7.

“I know they are utterly bummed… It was just a gut buster,” manager Brian Gabert said.

The Royals started the postseason in a winner to state matchup against Spanaway Lake on May 4. In that fixture, the Royals fell 2-1, and felt like they were the better side.

Early on in the game against Stadium, a loser out contest, it seemed like the Royals were the better side. They scored the first goal in the game in the ninth minute on a great shot from Keilor Cacho Garcia. His left foot guided a ball to the far corner of the net, beating the leap and outstretched arm of the Stadium keeper.

“He’s always looking to bang those balls and that is what he does,” Gabert said.

The rest of the first half was relatively neutral. The Royals would have a few chances, but the backline really stifled the Tigers. But in the second half, the Royals just spiraled out of control.

Stadium scored the game tying goal in the 46th minute of the game. The next two goals came just six minutes after the top got taken off of the goal. Two of the three goals came from costly Royals’ turnovers, leaving them exposed.

In an important game like this, those mistakes are magnified that much more. A big part was the Tigers kind of shocked the Royals with their energy and passion. Gabert described it as an “American soccer” type of energy. Not saying his players don’t play with passion, they just exude it differently.

“It is very tough to take kids from disadvantaged backgrounds and bring them to the ‘rah rah’ level of the American football mentality. The get in there and butt heads,” Gabert said.

Kent-Meridian had one of their best teams this season and built a solid foundation for Gabert and the young players. One of the players who kept fighting to the end was Andres Zuluaga, a Highline College commit.

“I’ll never get another Andres,” Gabert said.

One of the players who Gabert is looking forward to is Delano Valerio, a freshman who has shown he can be a special player in the future.

“He’s fantastic, he was crushing it,” Gabert said.

The Royals have a good amount of youth returning next season, which Gabert is excited for with all his attackers coming back.


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A trio of Tigers celebrate the win over Kent-Meridian. Ben Ray / The Reporter

A trio of Tigers celebrate the win over Kent-Meridian. Ben Ray / The Reporter

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