NACHES — For the second straight season, Royal and Wahluke boys soccer teams will face off for the District 5 championship. Both teams finished No. 1 and No. 2 at the top of the South Central Athletic Conference East standings coming into the tournament.
Royal defeated Wahluke in last season’s district championship, 1-0, while the Warriors returned the favor in the state tournament, defeating the Knights in the semifinals to advance before losing in the 1A state championship.
Both Royal and Wahluke finished this season 11-2-2, with the Knights finishing undefeated in conference play. The Warriors’ last defeat came against Royal, a 1-0 defeat that saw two goals disallowed for Wahluke.
Wahluke freshman Orlando Erazo was named player of the year in the SCAC East this season. Royal and Wahluke combined to make up over half of the first and second all-league teams, with Royal coach Jens Jensen named coach of the year.
“There’s going to be a ton of talent,” Wahluke head coach Arthur de Victoria said. “Our defense is pretty solid. Their defense is solid. I think our midfield has a slight edge. I’m really happy with our midfield. Our midfield is playing great.”
Top seed Royal defeated Granger and Mabton in the first two rounds by a combined score of 11-0 to advance to the district final. Wahluke, the two seed, defeated Highland 1-0 in the first round before beating Connell 4-1 on Tuesday to advance to face rival Royal.
Coach de Victoria said his team is simply looking to continue playing.
“We’d love to be in the final four again,” de Victoria said. “We’d love to get another shot at that title back at our place. We’ve got to win tomorrow. That’s our plan, win tomorrow.”