Conks finish fourth in state tourney | Boys Soccer

Mason Rudolph, Kentwood forward, weaves through two Snohomish players in the semifinals at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on May 30.  - Dennis Box
Mason Rudolph, Kentwood forward, weaves through two Snohomish players in the semifinals at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup on May 30.
— image credit: Dennis Box

Placing in the state tournament is supposed to feel good. But there were some definite mixed emotions after Kentwood’s unexpected run to the final four.

“When you look at the final weekend, I was disappointed that we didn’t get a win,” said Kentwood boys head coach Aaron Radford, who endured his second state semifinals loss on May 30. “A win would have been a chance at our first ever title game.”

Despite limited expectations, the Conks boys soccer team finished as the fourth best squad in the 4A state soccer tournament, after dropping its final two games on May 30-31.

The Conks veteran-loaded lineup finished the regular season atop the 4A South Puget Sound League North conference with an 11-2-3 record and rolled through the district tournament with two 1-0 shutouts. Their inspired play continued in the first two rounds of the state tourney, with a 1-0 win over Garfield on May 20 and a 2-1 victory of Gig Harbor on May 24. The Conquerors finally met their match May 30 against eventual state champion Snohomish, who used their superior size and strength en route to a 2-0 victory. The Panthers earned their third state title since 2000, the last coming in 2006.

“They really were a complete package,” Radford said of Snohomish. “I really couldn’t see a weakness across their field.”

Radford was happy with how his team responded after giving up a goal in the first half to the Panthers. As time clipped away, Radford decided to attack with hopes of creating  “a little more chaos” for scoring opportunities. It also made them vulnerable on defense, leading to a break away goal in the closing seconds.

“Things like that are going to happen if you push and go out of your comfort zone,” Radford said.

The following day, Kentwood couldn’t keep up with Skyview in the third-fourth place game, falling 4-1 to the Storm, which won the state title in 2012.

Senior Joey Alonzo scored on a header, but the Conks couldn’t capitalize any their other opportunities. Radford was proud that his squad never gave up and believed the game was more competitive than the score showed.

“I don’t think the 4-1 result was a showing of our season or even how we played that weekend, but that’s the way it goes,” he said.

Coming into the season, Radford thought the Conks had enough talent to challenge for a postseason birth, but the team kept gaining confidence with wins and a surprisingly strong offensive attack to go with its stifling defense.

“I’d say we definitely achieved beyond what I initially expected,” he said.

The Conquerors have never reached the championship game in their five trips to the Final Four, though they finished third in 2011. They have finished third three times and fourth twice. Radford coached the girls to a state championship in 2010. No boys soccer team from the Kent School district has ever won the state title.

“One of these years I know one of the Kent schools is going to pull through,” Radford said.


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