Too much Wolves for Spartans

May 31, 2011

By Matt Massey

Skyline’s third loss to Eastlake is in state championship

LAKEWOOD — Brandon McComb came to understand that he wasn’t going to get big minutes on the talented Eastlake High School boys soccer team.

So, he realized he’d better come up big when he plays.

Sean Klauer, Eastlake senior forward, keeps the ball from brothers Travis and Kaleb Strawn, of Skyline, during the first period of the 4A state soccer championship match May 28 in Tacoma. By Greg Farrar

McComb, a reserve senior forward, got the winning goal as Eastlake turned back Skyline, 2-0, in the May 28 Class 4A state championship match at Harry Lang Stadium.

The Wolves beat fifth-ranked Skyline for the third time this season on two second-half goals, including a rare McComb tally in the 46th minute.

McComb has scored only two career goals — both in the state playoffs this year.

“It feels so good,” said McComb, who came into the game with five minutes left in the first half and stayed on to start the second half. “When coach told me I had to go in, I just had to get any opportunity I could, and I had to finish it.”

Eastlake (14-3-2) captured its first state title since back-to-back crowns in 1996 and ‘97. In eight trips, the Wolves are 19-5 in state-playoff matches.

“I think every high-school athlete dreams about this — senior year, winning it all with all your friends,” Eastlake senior forward Gerard Galvin said. “It means a lot more with friends, and kids I’ve known for years. We’re just so connected.”

Skyline (15-3-2) posted its best finish in school history, taking away some of the sting of losing all three games this season to rival Eastlake. The schools are less than a mile apart on the Sammamish Plateau.

Skyline bowed out of the quarterfinals in 2001, 2004 and 2010 in its other state appearances.

Eastlake beat Skyline twice in KingCo 4A play this season. The Wolves won 1-0 at Skyline on April 26 and 2-0 in the conference tournament title match May 10.

The teams ended the regular season as co-champions at 8-1-1.

Eastlake senior forward Sean Klauer supplied a goal and an assist in the final.

The Wolves went in front 1-0 on McComb’s chip shot from 14 yards out over drawn-out goalkeeper Steven Pankiewicz in the 46th minute.

McComb had scored his first goal this season only 11 days ago, in a 2-1 win over Gig Harbor in the first round of the state playoffs.

Klauer redirected a pass to McComb for the score.

“In that second half, we changed up everything and came out stronger. If I could vote anybody most inspirational, it would be him,” Klauer said of McComb. “He comes out and tries his hardest even though he hadn’t played the whole season.

“It’s a game-changer, right there with him. If there’s a low level of play, he comes out hustling, scores a goal and it changes everything.”

Klauer cleaned up James Gee’s miss, hammering home a shot into the open left corner of the net in the 58th minute for a 2-0 lead. The rebound came right back to Klauer’s feet off Skyline keeper Pankiewicz.

“I really liked the way we were playing early in the game, and I really thought we were going to knock one in,” said Skyline coach Don Braman, eyeing the Eastlake trophy celebration. “It just didn’t get in for us. I loved how the boys played tonight. We lost to one team this year, and they’re a pretty good team.

“We knew beforehand, right, that the trophy was going to go back to the Plateau. We were just hoping it was going to end up eight-tenths of a mile up and at a higher altitude.”

Skyline 3, Stadium 2

The Spartans rallied for an improbable win with two goals May 27 in the final 14 minutes. Michael Stoddard scored the winner on a header after a long, looping pass from Travis Burns in the 76th minute.

Stadium (15-4-0), the defending state champion, had rallied for a 2-1 lead as goalkeeper Eric Owen drilled the go-ahead goal on a penalty kick in the 35th minute.

But later Owen misplayed and lost control of what looked like a benign 30-yard shot on goal from Jason Twaddle in the 66th minute and that tied the match at 2-2.

Travis Strawn blasted home a 35-yard shot in the 18th minute to give the Spartans a 1-0 lead, but the Tigers retaliated.

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