Hazen nets 3A KingCo men’s soccer championship
Highlanders defeat Mercer Island, 2-0, to qualify for state.
A pair of spirited sophomores led Hazen High School to the 3A KingCo Tournament boys soccer championship on May 10.
Giovanni Garcia scored a goal in the first half and Jordan Stroud had an insurance net in the second half as the Highlanders defeated host top-ranked Mercer Island High School, 2-0, to earn a place to declare
“Scoring a goal in the final was incredible. It makes me feel more at home with the team. It feels good, it feels like, ‘Wow!’” Garcia exclaimed after the game while holding a Mexican flag for his country.
Nearby, brothers Hazen Alex and Vitaliy Polyukh carried a Ukrainian flag to represent their homeland. Both defensemen played a crucial role in the game helping to keep the Islanders clean sheet. In the second half, Vitaliy left a potential Islander equalizer off the line.
Garcia, who assisted on Stroud’s goal, said the team has strong chemistry and the players push each other to succeed.
“We all really, really trust each other to the point where we’re confident we can win balls no matter what,” Garcia said.
Stroud said the team is like a family and brings heart and spirit to the pitch every time they are out.
As for the goal he scored, Stroud noted with a smile: “Best feeling in the world.”
Second-seeded Hazen has a 9-3-1 league and 12-3-1 overall record this season. Hazen bounced back from a 5-1 loss to Mercer Island during the regular season, which also featured a 0-0 tie between the two teams.
The state tournament will begin May 16-17.
Hazen’s Hamza Zayan, left, challenges Mercer Island’s Nicholas Chou for the ball. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo
Hazen’s players surround a Mercer Islander. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo
From left to right, Ukrainian brothers Vitaliy and Alex Polyukh. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo
From left to right, Emiliano Nunez de Hazen, Giusseppe Mercado, Giovanni Garcia and Jordan Stroud. Andy Nystrom/ staff photo