Prep boys soccer: Centralia defends home field, triumphs in OT over W.F. West


All the Centralia High School boys soccer team has done over the last 20-plus days is cook up home victories.

It nudged past Aberdeen 1-0 on the final day of March, then pulled out a 2-1 thriller in overtime to upend Tumwater and put all the pieces together for a statement 5-0 victory against Rochester.

“We feel very comfortable,” Tigers head coach Noel Vasquez said. “We don’t want to let people tell us how to play on our home field and that has been the backbone of how we play (at) home.”

Centralia didn’t get to leave Tiger Stadium with The Chronicle Cup on Friday night, but it walked out with a satisfied consolation prize.

Freshman Damian Corona ended up in the right place at the right time, burying a free ball in the 85th minute past W.F. West goalkeeper Cayden Page, igniting the Tigers with a 2-1 overtime triumph over their arch rival in an Evergreen Conference tussle.

“The boys just love winning as a unit,” Vasquez stated. “The key to success is repetition, as boring as it is.”

Two weeks ago, the standings were crowded for the final spot in the Class 2A District 4 tournament. Now, it is a jam-packed table with a couple league games remaining.

Aberdeen, Centralia and Tumwater all have four losses, but the Tigers and T-Birds have six wins, one more than the Bobcats.

Rochester sits a game back and Shelton, who pulled off a 3-2 upset of Tumwater on Friday, is two games behind.

Aberdeen still has three league games, including hosting both Centralia (7-5, 6-4 EvCo) and Tumwater in the span of six days starting next week, while Rochester travels north to battle the Thunderbirds next Friday.

In totality, a nutty league season could get nuttier.

“I feel happiness, joy,” Centralia goalkeeper Alejandro Arevalo said. “It was a helluva game. You feel great after beating them, it is something we should be doing more often. Never back down.”

For a moment, the match seemed destined for the second overtime period before heading to a shootout. Corona’s goal came right under a minute remaining on the clock.

A 25-plus yard shot sailed in the air for a bit and Page leaped up to snare it. The ball bobbled in his hands and it fell to Corona’s foot and he laced it and sent the Tigers into euphoria.

“We got to follow the shot,” Vasquez said. “Wherever it goes, you never know. It was our turn.”

Arevalo had a hand in sending the contest to extra time.

W.F. West (9-3, 8-2) pushed the pace and earned a corner kick with under two minutes left in regulation. A scrum in front of the net led to a shot on goal that Arevalo saved to keep the match all level.

“Sacrificed a rib for it,” Arevalo said. “It was a pretty tough save. I stared it down for a little bit; I trusted my gut.”

Bearcats head coach Allen Anderson felt his group played tight for much of the night. Things they did well this season fell short on Friday.

“They were nervous. It was a big moment to try and seal (the) league,” Anderson said. “Friday’s aren’t exactly our best performances. It is hard for us to adjust when we come on these turf fields.”

W.F. West grabbed a 1-0 lead in the 35th minute off a corner kick scrum of its own as defender Charles Comisky scored on a rebound. Centralia answered on a set piece as Angel Rojas found the head of Alex Hernandez for the equalizer.

The silver lining for the Bearcats is they hoisted The Chronicle Cup once again with a 5-2 win on aggregate of the two matches, plus locked up the top seed in the district tourney with Tumwater’s setback.

They can clinch an outright EvCo title for the first time in over 25 years with a win over Black Hills on Tuesday.

“As hard as it is, I tried to express that to the boys to be proud of what they accomplished,” Anderson said. “Once they wake up in the morning, it is going to sink in.”

Centralia isn’t in firm control of a district berth, but a victory against Black Hills next Friday moves it one step toward a postseason spot for the first time since 2016. 

“We’re just excited to at least look at the door and be like ‘Hey, we just got to walk through it and we’ll be in the big party,’” Vasquez said. “Everybody else around here has experienced it but us. We’re super excited to go in there with our balloons and join the big festivities.”