Exuding chants of “Why lose?” into the wet afternoon air, the Mountlake Terrace High School boys soccer team shared with everyone in the stands the team mantra they had come to embrace over the last month and into the District 1 tournament. The chant was especially fitting Saturday, as the Hawks had just beaten Marysville-Pilchuck 1-0 for the third spot in the 3A state tournament.
“No one gave us a chance. We went from being ranked 70th earlier in the year to now being in the final 16,” said junior captain Sam Polveroy. Polveroy assisted on the games’s only goal, one that came with just over 14 minutes left in the contest. Taking a free kick from mid-field, Polveroy sent a ball that came down just short of the goal where his awaiting teammate Diego Aquiniga headed it past the Tomahawks’ goalie for the winning tally.
“I saw the ball coming and I just backed up, created some space and it just flicked off the back of my head,” said Aguiniga. Added Polveroy: “Diego’s a tall fellow and he got to it first and put it in.”
The Hawks came into the tournament as the seventh seed after losing their opener last Saturday. With Saturday’s win, they have now taken three straight .
“It’s a first time for a long time that we’ve made it to state,” said Mountlake Terrace coach George Dremousis. “After our loss to Edmonds-Woodway (in the first round,) we had a team meeting and we decided to move a few guys around, run a few more set pieces.”
Polveroy’s assist was one of the junior defender’s several long free kicks, many of which had earlier sailed too far. “We told him to take something off it,” said Dremousis. “Sam is everything you’d want in a center back, he’s a captain in every sense of the word,” the coach added.
Saturday’s victory completed a turnaround from the season’s mid-point that had the Hawks unsure whether they’d even make the playoffs. “We had a rough patch where it looked like we might not even make it in, then when we got in, coach said, ‘why lose?'” Polveroy said. “And we’ve kind of run with it.”
Mountlake Terrace sports only two seniors and both admitted the thought had entered their mind that this could be their last game. “Honestly I cried, I got emotional. I still can’t believe it’s happening,” said defender Austin Burton. Burton will be heading next year to Shoreline Community College to continue his game. Fellow senior Derek Rajah expressed it this way: “I thought, this could be it, this could be the end. And when it turned out not to be, I am just so happy.”
As a three seed out of the District, the Hawks will travel to Mercer Island to face the Islanders on Tuesday night. Mercer Island is the home team by virtue of taking the District 2 crown.
“We’re excited, it’s been a long time for the school,” Dremousis said. “We’re looking forward to it.”
— By Jeff Smarr