EVERETT — Maybe it was the excitement of seeing their school accept an invitation to join the Western Athletic Conference earlier this week. Or perhaps it was the challenge of going up against a bunch of their rivals from the University of Washington.
Whatever it was, the trio of Seattle University players on the North Sound SeaWolves turned Wednesday’s Premier Development League match against the Tacoma Tide into Redhawks Night at Goddard Stadium.
In front of a crowd of about 150 fans on a sunny evening in South Everett, Marshall Kosaka continued his tear with two goals and an assist and his SU teammates Brady Ballew and Kevin Cook each had a goal as the SeaWolves defeated Tacoma 4-2 to pick up a key three points with their second win in a row.
North Sound (2-2-3) now has nine points with another home game coming up Saturday night against struggling Abbotsford. The SeaWolves are just five points out of second place. The top two teams in the Northwest Division of the PDL qualify for the postseason.
“It wasn’t our best game,” North Sound coach Alex Silva said. “Sometimes you have games like this where you’re off, but it was good that we could have one of those games and still win.”
Much of the credit for the win goes to the Seattle U threesome. Kosaka, who scored both goals in North Sound’s 2-0 win over Victoria this past Saturday, added his third and fourth of the season but it wasn’t until Cook, the SeaWolves’ right fullback, made a surprisingly clean run down the sideline and finished in the 83rd minute to complete the scoring that Silva allowed himself to breathe easier. After all, he’d seen his team lose a two-goal lead to Tacoma in a 2-2 draw earlier this season, and he knew the Tide was known for their ability to come back.
“Tacoma was really pushing up and we had to drop two more guys back in the center,” Silva said. “I told them that we have to defend because Tacoma always comes back with a lot of energy.”
Cook ended much of the drama, gathering a long kick from keeper Claudio Lazar on the right sideline and streaking virtually undefended toward the goal, finishing to the far post for his first goal of the season.
“I saw that I really had just one player to beat and then had a clear path to the goal,” said Cook, who scored one goal this past season for Seattle University. “So I just kept going toward the goal and was able to get a good shot off.”
Tacoma (1-5-3), which has six Washington Huskies on its team, had closed within a goal four minutes earlier when Cameron Vickers spun away from two North Sound defenders and crossed to a wide-open Christopher Sanders, who scored to make it 3-2. But Lazar and the SeaWolves defense were able to make the lead hold up down the stretch despite an aggressive attack by the Tide.
The SeaWolves took the lead in the 32nd minute when Kosaka handled the ball brilliantly on the left sideline before heading toward the goal, drawing the defense and then threading a pass in stride to Ballew who one-touched into the net for a 1-0 lead.
“That’s an exact play that we’ve been working on in practice,” Kosaka said. “Just getting guys outside and then coming in toward the goal. It worked just how we practiced it.”
Tacoma evened the score five minutes later but Kosaka gave the SeaWolves the lead at the half, side-stepping a defender to create room and firing a shot from 30 yards out past keeper Jordan Jennings in the 42nd minute.
“I just got a little space and took a chance,” said Kosaka, who also scored on a penalty kick early in the second half for a 3-1 lead. “Coach has been telling me to shoot more so that’s what I’ve been doing.”
Now North Sound will try to carry its momentum into Saturday’s matchup with a chance to continue its move up the division standings.
“We know that we’re playing well and we have an opportunity to pick up some big points,” Cook said. “It’s always big to get three points when you’re at home.”
“We know that (second-place) Portland has lost two in a row,” Kosaka added. “Every time we get a win, we improve our chances of moving up and getting into second and getting a playoff spot. That’s what we’re focused on.”