The sound of the final whistle was accompanied by an explosive, and much-anticipated, yell from Issaquah junior captain Quinn Grisham on Tuesday night: “Playoffs, baby.”
Issaquah’s 3-0 road victory over Redmond secured the soccer program’s first KingCo playoff berth since 2002.
“It was a huge relief because we believed all along that we were a playoff team, we should be in the playoffs, so it’s just a great sense of accomplishment,” Issaquah head coach Jason Lichtenberger said.
The scenario for the final regular-season game was cut and dry. A win over the Mustangs, and the Eagles were guaranteed a trip to the postseason. A loss or a tie, and their season was over.
“We had a little bit of a comfort level, then we put ourselves in a must-win situation tonight,” said Lichtenberger, referring to the last six games, which resulted in one win, two losses and three ties. “It was great to see them respond that way.”
Issaquah did just what it hoped, taking an early advantage over Redmond in a hostile environment. The Mustangs were celebrating senior night, and needed a win to keep playoff hopes alive. The Eagles silenced the home crowd in the 36th minute, however, when Lucas Morias crossed a ball from the right sideline. Redmond goalkeeper Andrew Colleran deflected the ball to Grishman, who booted it in on the rebound and a 1-0 halftime lead.
Issaquah kept its pressure up in the second half, using the counter attack to perfection. The duo of Morias and Grisham hooked up again in the 49th minute on another precise feed across the middle.
“Lucas got in and I saw him cutting it back, so I called for it up top and put it right to my foot,” Grisham said.
Grisham completed his first high-school hat trick in the 71st minute off an assist from Andrew Schubert. Working down the right sideline, Schubert lifted the ball from 25 yards out, into the middle of the box. Grisham stepped in front of Colleran and headed the ball in for his third score. It also completed a rare feat of a player scoring with his left foot, right foot and head.
“I can’t remember the last time someone at Issaquah had a hat trick, it’s been a long time,” Lichtenberger said. “It’s a remarkable feat… He’s a guy we know that can do that. He can put up those kind of numbers, and when he gets in his space he’s tough to stop.”
The victory improved Issaquah’s record to 5-4-2 in league and 10-4-2 overall, but more importantly gave the Eagles the No. 5 KingCo playoff seed. They will travel to No. 4 Ballard at 7 p.m., Saturday to play in a loser-out game.
“It feels really good,” said Grisham, of making it to the playoffs. “It’s the first time ever for anyone on the team, it’s awesome.”
Issaquah lost 2-1 to Ballard (5-4-2, 7-4-2) in their only meeting on April 14.
Eastlake falls to Ballard
Eastlake dropped its final regular-season game 4-2 to Ballard Tuesday night, but wasn’t eliminated from the playofff picture. The Wolves finished tied with Garfield in the standings earning a tiebreaker game with the Bulldogs on Thursday. The winner of that contest will earn the sixth and final KingCo playoff seed and will face No. 3 Bothell on Saturday. Eastlake battled back to tie the game with Ballard on Tuesday, 2-2, in the 72nd minute on a goal from Gerard Galvin, but the Beavers scored two goals in the 78th and 79th minute to grab the victory and a playoff berth.
Skyline ties Woodinville in finale
Skyline battled back to earn a 1-1 tie with league-leader Woodinville in its final game of 2009. Trailing 1-0 in the second half, Pedro Miola knotted the game up in the 60th minute off an assist from Braxton Griffin. The Spartans finished 3-6-2 in league and 4-8-3 overall. Skyline finished with 11 points in the standings. Woodinville won the league title with the tie, earning 21 overall points.