Each member of the Bellarmine soccer team’s three-headed attack up front has had a chance to showcase their skills throughout this postseason. On May 19 it was Kurtis Pederson’s turn to steal the show, as the senior forward scored two goals from distance, leading the Lions to a 4-1 win over Puyallup at Harry Lang Stadium and giving them a berth in the state semifinals this weekend.
“It’s a great tactical advantage for us,” said Pederson of the forward group of himself, Cooper Doxon and Michael Rector. “It’s really good for us because we don’t have one strong point that we go to, we have as many as we need. Someone’s going to step up no matter what.”
Pederson got the Lions on the board in the 15th minute, bringing down a pass and turning to laser a shot from 30 yards out past Vikings keeper T.J. Josephson.
“Kurtis has the potential to do that all the time,” said Bellarmine head coach Joe Waters. “He’s a workhorse of a kid, he covers every blade of grass on the field and then he pulls off some stunning things. It’s great to have him. I’m glad we have him and the others don’t.”
The Lions kept the ball near Puyallup’s goal for much of the first half, and struck again just before halftime when Doxon drove in a header off a long throw-in from Rector in the 39th minute.
“It was a huge goal,” said Waters, “and it’s very disheartening for the other team when it happens just before halftime.”
Pederson then put the game away in the 57th minute, weaving around a defender and driving a ball from 20 yards out past Josephson in the left of the goal.
“If I see a gap I’m going to go for it,” Pederson said. “If there’s a better option to pass it off I’m going to pass it off, but I just felt like taking the (shot) was good.”
Rector added a goal 15 minutes later after stealing a pass and driving it into an open net, and Shohieb Azami scored for Puyallup with 23 seconds remaining on a header off of a cross to make it 4-1. That was the only error in an otherwise dominant defensive effort for the Lions, spearheaded by seniors Adam Smith and Patrick Barr.
“In my eyes we have the best defense in the state,” Pederson said. “I know they’re going to win (the ball) for us and play it up to us, and give us a chance to score our goals. It’s a great defense.”
The victory came days after a 2-1 win over Snohomish – the state’s top-ranked team in 4A – on May 16 in the state opener. Doxon struck with an early header and Pederson’s nifty flick in the second half put the Lions up 2-0, and they held on despite late pressure. The Lions now face familiar foe Central Kitsap – the Narrows 4A regular season champs – in the state semifinals on May 25 at 8 p.m. at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. The finals are set for May 26 at 4 p.m., with the consolation finals taking place earlier at noon.