Wildcats, without their head coach, battle hard and advance to second round of state boys’ soccer tourney

Mount Si High School’s boys’ soccer team opened the first round of the WIAA’s 4A state playoffs last night at home in Snoqualmie without a familiar face. Coach Darren Brown was not there, presumably serving a suspension as a result of the ejection he was given during last Thursday’s Wes-King 4A title game against Jackson following that controversial penalty kick that propelled the Timberwolves to a penalty-kick shootout win and district title. So Mount Si soldiered on against Sumner, and once again battled not only a good team, but at times controversial officiating yet again. However, this time, the Wildcats closed it out and advanced.

Mount Si High School boys’ soccer player Jake Jimenez (center) prepares to throw in the ball during the second half of last night’s Wildcat boys’ soccer state playoff game with Sumner, won by Mount Si 2-1. (Rhett Workman/SVSJ)

A late goal in the second half by Mateo DiDomenico lifted Mount Si to a 2-1 win over the South Puget Sound League’s Spartans, avenging a 2-1 loss to that same Sumner team on their home field down in Pierce County last spring in the first round of the 2018 state playoffs. The win for Mount Si moves them into a quarterfinal clash with Kingco 4A archrival Issaquah, expected to take place on Saturday with a time to be determined. When that will be announced is not known, as IHS is closed today due to issues related to a measles case that is linked to the school.

Brown’s lead assistant Ben Tomlisson, expected to be named the full-time Wildcat head coach following the end of the season and Brown’s retirement from coaching to take on the full-time responsibility of handling the school’s athletic-related matters as its athletic director, got a first taste of what it will be like for him as head coach. He was happy with the performance of the team. “We tried to approach this game with like, ‘How do we enjoy it, not just thinking about the next game or the final, but how do we enjoy this moment in the first round of the state playoffs,’ and we enjoy it by executing our game plan and people stepping up like Mateo,” said the veteran assistant, who is also a social studies teacher at the high school. “I couldn’t be more proud of the players.”

The win for sophomore Sullivan Smith was a rather sweet birthday present; yesterday was “Sully’s” 16th birthday and he was happy to enjoy the moment, too. “It was just a good team effort. We knew we were coming out against a good team. We just locked in and we didn’t play as well as we should have but we came with the result and that’s all that matters,” Smith said.

The game didn’t start out well for Mount Si. In the 9th minute, Sumner broke in quick on Mount Si goalie Colby Ramsey. Junior defender Kurtis VanHout pushed the ball and was being chased by Wildcat defenders. The last Mount Si defender chasing the Spartan player fell and that allowed VanHout a free shot on goal, which he converted with no mistake past Ramsey and Sumner was on the board.

As noted, the officiating once again, as it was last Thursday, proved to be a sore spot for Mount Si and their fans. Case in point, in the 17th minute, officials whistled a yellow card on a Wildcat defender after he committed a hard foul on a Sumner player, which in our view was a correct call and not surprising result. But just minutes after, a Sumner player collided hard with Ramsey in goal, dropping Mount Si’s sophomore number one keeper to the ground having been shaken up a bit. He remained in the game but no yellow card was issued on that foul, which appeared to be a much harder foul that the one that netted the Wildcats a yellow just moments prior.

Mount Si overcame all that and found a way to tie this one up in the 28th minute. Drew Harris found a loose ball in front of the Sumner net and ripped it past Spartan starting keeper Alex McGee and equalized things at a goal apiece. Harris was not part of Mount Si’s team in last year’s game, so the senior’s addition this year has proven to be a big difference for the Wildcats, and it clearly was shown here as the midfielder delivered a big goal to get his team back in it. The game went to halftime 1-1 and it remained this way into the 68th minute.

Cal State East Bay-bound DiDomenico found a Harris feed and one-timed it top shelf underneath the crossbar and past Sumner relief goalie Erik Mills and Mount Si was in front. “I zoomed in there and gave it out to Drew and (he) played it perfect back out to me and I shot it up in the corner,” the Wildcat senior said. The goal was a laser and one of the better goals – and more important goals – Mount Si has scored in recent years.

Sumner did their best to mount a comeback, and was given plenty of time to do that – too much time perhaps in the eyes of some of the Wildcat supporters, who gave officials a hard time about that as the stoppage time rolled on, once again creating some fireworks about the overall officiating – but Mount Si found a way to close things out and advance into a Kingco 4A matchup with the winner moving on to Puyallup and the semis next weekend, the loser going home. Mount Si last made it this far in 2010, so it’s been a long while for sure. “We need everyone there,” Smith said. Again, game time is to be announced, but it’s not clear when the announcement will be made due to today’s unprecedented IHS measles-related school closure.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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