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Wahluke defeats Royal 1-0

by IAN BIVONA
Sports Reporter | April 24, 2024 4:58 PM

MATTAWA — An early goal by Wahluke senior Diego Olivares was enough to determine the winner of Tuesday’s South Central Athletic Conference (East) match between the Warriors and Royal, with Wahluke winning 1-0.

“We were excited, it’s always a good advantage to play at home,” Wahluke Head Coach Cele Lopez said. “There was a lot on the line for this game — whoever won was probably going to be league champs — plus the advantage in districts to play twice at home. The confidence of the boys was going to be big for this game.”

Olivares shot the ball from the right post after receiving a pass from his teammate, Warrior junior Alvaro Rodriguez. The senior’s shot was buried in the back left of the Royal net for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.

“I saw the chemistry we have as a team,” Olivares said. “The midfielder passed it to me, Alvaro Rodriguez, and we’ve had that chemistry since we were little kids. I know he saw me make that run, and it was perfect. I took my shot, got that opportunity, and put the team up 1-0.”

Wahluke dominated possession in the first half; Royal’s first shot on goal of the game came in the 35th minute.

“We wanted to start the games more intense like that,” Lopez said. “It was huge for us; everybody on the same page, everybody with great energy. We just connected. That’s the best 20 minutes of the whole season that we have played.”

While Royal was able to generate shots on the Warrior net late in the first half and throughout the second half, the Knights couldn’t capitalize on scoring opportunities — whether they came from corner kicks or free kicks.

“We were trying to figure out a way to get their defense facing their own goal,” Royal head coach Jens Jensen said. “I think we were wearing them down and had that opportunity, and then after that we kind of did it to ourselves.”

Wahluke drew a red card in the 61st minute, leaving them with 10 players on the field for the remainder of the match.

“We took one offensive player down, and we kept the same shape on the bottom,” Lopez said. “We were doing good in the first half, so there was no need to add a defender.”

Even though the Warriors have one game remaining on the schedule, Lopez said Tuesday’s win over the Knights was enough to clinch the SCAC (East) crown due to Wahluke’s head-to-head record over Royal: Wahluke previously defeated the Knights 2-1 on March 21 in Royal City.

Wahluke also won the league title last season.

“It’s a really good feeling, just to see that we got to win it again,” Olivares said. “It’s a really good accomplishment.”

Prior to the game Wahluke’s seven seniors were recognized on the team’s senior night; seniors Haziel Sandoval-Gatica, Brian Herrera-Renteria, Olivares, Alain Suarez, Abraham Prudente, Alessandro Maravilla and Julian Paramo. 

“Those seniors, they're bringing so much to the program,” Lopez said. “They’re always encouraging players, inviting players, recruiting (their classmates) … for a little town like us, that’s huge.”

Wahluke (14-1) heads to Kiona-Benton for their regular season finale on Thursday, while the Knights (11-3) host Warden on Thursday.

“We’ve got to play on Thursday, and then a whole new season starts,” Jensen said. “This kind of game isn’t the thing that destroys the team, at least not this team — this is the kind of thing that they learn from, and hopefully provides them with some fuel so they can do what needs to be done moving forward.”

Ian Bivona may be reached at ibivona@columbiabasinherald.com.

Box score

ROY: 0-0 0
WAH: 1-0 1

    Wahluke senior Diego Olivares (9) scored the game’s lone goal on Tuesday, delivering a goal in the third minute against Royal.
 
 
    Royal sophomore Victor Aquino, in white, rushes in to take possession of a loose ball in the second half against Royal on Tuesday.
 
 
    Wahluke boys soccer players celebrate after defeating Royal 1-0 on Tuesday in Mattawa.