SANDPOINT — It was a tough loss for No. 1 seed Sandpoint, which gave up an early penalty kick and had a goal waved off because of goalie interference in a 2-1 loss to No. 2 Moscow in the 4A Region 1 boys soccer championship Thursday night at War Memorial Field.
Moscow (8-8) will represent the 4A Inland Empire League at the 4A state tournament next weekend, while the Bulldogs (7-6) saw their season end in a frustrating fashion.
The Bears scored the game’s first goal in the 14th minute, after the Bulldogs were called for a foul inside the box. Moscow’s Jacob Helmke converted the ensuing PK for an early 1-0 lead.
Bulldogs head coach Evan McNeley, like many of the team’s players, parents and fans, didn’t agree with the pivotal call, especially in a game with a state berth hanging in the balance.
“I don’t know what is a foul, and what isn’t,” said a frustrated McNeley after the game. “I’m finding a loss for words about how we played.”
Sandpoint created quality looks at goal all game, including in the first minute, when Braeden Dressel fired a shot that was stopped by diving Moscow goalie Finn Benson. Cole Baillie was active in the attack and also had a couple of great looks to score in the first half, but couldn’t convert, and he started the second half with a header that was just wide of the post for the potential equalizer.
To their credit, Moscow didn’t sit on an early 1-0 lead or pack it back to defend the lead, and continued to attack offensively, scoring another goal when Max Mortimer got behind the defense and beat Bulldog goalie one-on-one Julian Reichold for an insurance goal and a 2-0 lead with 15 minutes to play.
The Bulldogs appeared to cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal shortly thereafter, but it was waived off when the Bears’ keeper was knocked to the ground by a Bulldog player right before the ball bounced into an empty net.
The Bulldogs played with a high pace, controlling possession and earning a host of corner kicks, but were unable to capitalize. Zander Moore finally got his team on the board after converting a penalty kick for the game’s final tally.
“I’m proud of the boys for how they battled, they stayed in it late in the game,” described McNeley. “It was a difficult loss for us. I’m saddened for the senior class. They put in a lot of good work.”
First half — 1, Mos, Jacob Helmke (penalty kick), 14:00. Second half — 2, Mos, Max Mortimer (unassisted), 65:00. 3, Spt, Zander Moore (penalty kick), 73:00.
Shots on goal — Spt 12, Mos 8.
Saves — Spt, Julian Reichold, 6; Mos, Finn Benson, 10.