With a stout defense evident throughout the game, all Puyallup needed on Saturday afternoon against the Gig Harbor Tides was one chance. That chance came late in the second half for the Vikings, when Puyallup sophomore Zach Munizza forced a Gig Harbor turnover and passed the ball to junior forward Brad Macdougall, who scored the goal with ease. The Vikings came out on top in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bidistrict match at Mount Tahoma Stadium, winning 1-0 and claiming the No. 3 seed in the state tournament.
“Zach pressed as hard as he could, and he won the ball, and then just slotted me right in,” Macdougall said. “That’s how we’ve been practicing.”
Munizza has been a swing player for the Vikings this season, and due to some injuries, he has assumed a prominent role for the varsity squad. He’s made the most of the opportunity, netting three goals and tallying four assists in the last four games.
The Viking defense shut out the Tides, who have been held scoreless in their last two contests. Puyallup head coach Matt White was pleased with the defensive effort.
“I’m really excited,” White said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries. It’s been new guys starting every game for the last six games, so it was nice to be able to get some solidity, and get guys organized together.”
While the Tides, the Narrows League 4A champions, didn’t suffer from a shortage of shots on goal, their inability to find the back of the net is a concern for head coach Todd Northstrom. Northstrom said the Tides have lost their poise, which is what made them successful all season.
“We’re making some really bad choices when we do have an opportunity in front of the net,” Northstrom said. “Selfish opportunities — we’re not dropping the ball back to people that are running through, and we’re shooting these crazy angle shots that aren’t going to go in.”
Northstrom said the team needs to be prepared for every game, especially at this point in the season.
“They’re starting to realize—I hope—that every team is good,” Northstrom said. “It’s going to be tight all the time, so you have to finish when you get opportunities. And we’re getting a massive amount of opportunities for a playoff game. They have to concentrate and focus and do what’s best for the team rather than what’s best for themselves. That’s our biggest thing right now, which is unusual for a very selfish team.”
One area that Northstrom has been pleased with is the defensive end. The Tides back unit only gave up one goal in district tournament games against Puyallup and Kentwood.
“They’re rock solid right now,” Northstrom said. “They’re really communicating and winning the ball and doing all the right stuff. I have every confidence in them.”
Although a turnover led to the Puyallup goal, Northstrom said the offense actually deserves more of the blame for the goal than the defense does.
“When we get scored on, it’s not the defense’s fault; it’s our offense’s fault for allowing the other team to put pressure on our defense,” Northstrom said. “We’re not possessing the ball. We’re just go, go, go forward right now. That’s all we’re trying to do. We’re not at all trying to spread the field and stretch defenses. It’s all just kick it into a spot, and everyone is going to run there.”
Gig Harbor will go on the road to face Issaquah Tuesday.Jon Manley: 253-358-4151