ROYAL CITY — There’s a downside to playing bunker defense with 10 in the box and it cost Brewster in Tuesday’s 1A state tournament opener at David Nielsen Memorial Stadium.
Royal freshman Eliseo Romero gathered the ball at the 25 yard line, turned and put the shot on goal, low and away in the 27th minute. The ball slipped between the defenders and Juan Cazares never saw it, didn’t even react, because he was screened on the play.
As it turned out, that was the only score in Royal’s 1-nil victory over Brewster in the first round of the 1A soccer tournament.
The Knights (18-3) extended their 14-game winning streak and moved a step closer to Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner with their seventh consecutive shutout and 14th of the season.
Royal has played 798 minutes without giving up a goal and on a day where the temperature was near 90 degrees and the defense didn’t play particularly well, Knights coach Jens Jensen will take a win in their final game of the season at David Nielsen Stadium.
“I told the boys, it wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world. But pretty doesn’t matter at this point in the season,” Jensen said. “Today, the defense was not mistake-free. Today, you saw Ty Miller in goal cover their blushes, so to speak.
“That’s the great thing, we make our mistakes and we pick each other up in different ways.”
Miller had four saves on the day, including a quality save in the second half when Brewster striker Felix Nava slipped in from the left wing looking to cross, then pulled up and put ball on net. Miller, the Royal sophomore, came up big, laying out for the save on the potential game-tier at the 65th minute.
“The defender was shielding (the near post) and the guy ended up getting around him,” Miller said. “Then he shot across toward the far post, but I was able the make the stop.”
The were able to convert on one of seven shots on goal, but had several nice looks in the second half, but failed to convert. As it turned out, it was the freshman, Romero, who has been playing soccer since he was a little kid playing behind the stands, that made the difference.
“I just shot it and it went in. I don’t know if the keeper ever saw it, but I’m happy,” Romero said. “Their defense was strong and it was hard to get open, so to make a goal that allowed us to win felt good.”
The two-time defending SCAC champions will play at Highland in the 4 p.m. match on Friday.
Brewster 0 0 - 0
Royal 1 0 - 1
R - Eliseo Romero, 27:09
Shots on goal: Brewster 4, Royal. Saves: Juan Cazares 5, Ty Miller 7.