In their first playoff game in nine years, Mount Tahoma battled Enumclaw to a 1-1 draw for 90 minutes before falling 4-3 in penalty kicks to see their successful season come to an end on Saturday at Highline Memorial Stadium.
As has been the case all season, Kenyan forwards Brian Wambaa and Ian Karanja created scoring chances early and often for the T-Birds with their blazing speed and keen sense of connection up front.
“Me and Ian just play soccer a lot,” Wambaa said. “It just comes out on the field. Other people tell us that. We don’t even think about it, we forget about it sometimes.”
Wambaa almost had an open look in the 12th minute, chipping a shot past the keeper 15 yards from goal before defender Caleb Gwerder cleared it. The Hornets then got on the board a minute later, as Mount Tahoma keeper Jose Reyes deflected Chris Kraemer’s shot to the foot of Chase Olson, who sent it into an open net on the right side for a 1-0 lead.
But the Thunderbirds controlled much of the possession the rest of the half, getting several scoring looks but failing to equalize.
They finally tied it up in the 53rd minute with a bit of skill and luck, as Karanja flicked a ball over keeper Matt Leavens in front of goal before Darwin Wood drove it into his own net.
Karanja had two good looks in the extra-time periods but couldn’t find the net, sending the game to penalty kicks.
Kraemer – who switched into goal for Enumclaw at the start of the penalty-kick portion – dove to save Alexsander Gurmeza’s shot on the Thunderbirds’ second attempt, proving to be the difference for the Hornets. Karanja, Anthony Garibaldi and freshman Roberto Brito all converted penalty kicks for Mount Tahoma.
Mount Tahoma finished in second place in their inaugural season in the Narrows 3A this season, one year after finishing with just one league win in the Narrows 4A.