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.

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

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

More in Sports

Gabby Greenwood gives a yell after her home run against Graham-Kapowsin. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood falls in district championship, named five seed for state tournament

Kentridge makes second day of district tournament for first time since 2016.

Matthew Ledbetter leads off the game in the first inning at Sherman Anderson Field. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake baseball eliminated in Mount Vernon

Falcons fall 9-3 to third-seeded Bulldogs.

Christopher Moore went six strong innings against Stanwood. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake blanks Stanwood 5-0 in state tournament opening round

Falcons win behind solid performance from Christopher Moore.

Sarah Wright struck out 17 and allowed just two hits against Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood fastpitch wins fourth straight league title

Wright and Conks down Kentridge 7-0 with 17Ks and 2RBI at the plate.

Quay Miller taking a shot during warmups in Canada. Photo provided by Seattle Storm.
Kentridge’s Quay Miller fights for spot with Storm

Miller wrapped up her college career in March and now sets her sights on the professional level.

Dominic DesMarais on the mound against Curtis. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentridge baseball moves on in district tournament

Kentridge’s 1-0 win over Curtis is fueled by Dominic DesMarais, who pitched a complete game shutout.

Photo of an assistant referee. Ben Ray / Sound Publishing
Amateur refs and umpires deserve more respect | Bench Talk with Ben Ray

Imagine you show up to do a hobby that you enjoy, and other people show up and just start ripping you a new one because of a minute decision you made.

Sarah Wright does her thing in the circle for Kentwood. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood outlasts Auburn Riverside in heavyweight clash

Sarah Wright dazzles and the offense gets the job done in 2-1 win.

Vote today for the Kent Reporter's Athletes of the Year.
Vote for the Kent Reporter Athletes of the Year

The online contest runs May 1 to May 8.

Johan Zuluaga gets some love from his teammates after scoring the game tying goal. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kent-Meridian soccer wins 3A NPSL with win over Auburn Riverside

The Royals have now won four straight to close out regular season.

Ethan Nonthaveth scores the second Kentwood goal for the Conks in a minute against Mount Rainier. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Tale of two halves for Kentwood boys soccer

Kentwood led 3-0 at halftime, but ends with 3-3 draw against Mount Rainier.

Juan Hernandez gives a scream after driving in the go-ahead run in the seventh. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentlake steals a win on the road — and steals top spot

Falcons defeated Lions 3-2 in an intense battle for the lead of the NPSL.