TUKWILA, Wash. — Walla Walla Community College freshmen Kevin Meraz-Rodriguez and Lupe Barajas each scored a goal as the Warriors kicked off their men’s soccer season with a 2-0 victory over Clark in the Northwest Athletic Conference Friendlies here at the Starfire Sports Complex on Thursday.
Meraz-Rodriguez tallied the first goal of the game for the Warriors in the 50th minute with an assist from sophomore Freddy Rodriguez on a counter attack that saw Walla Walla flood the Clark box.
Barajas later doubled the WWCC lead around the 79th minute on a fantastic strike from 25 yards out off a feed from Andres Arroyo.
“I was proud of the team’s performance,” Warriors coach Ben Rotert said. “We were calm and collected and played the kind of game we wanted to play. The boys capitalized on their chances and were organized defensively as a unit.
“We have been working really hard for the past three weeks preparing for season to start today,” Rotert added. “Excited for the win today, but need to refocus for a tough every team tomorrow.”
Walla Walla is back at it here this afternoon, taking on Everett at 4 p.m.
The Warrior attack came out firing Thursday, and controlled most of the match even as they went to halftime scoreless.
Freddy Rodriguez gave WWCC its first real chance around the 30th minute as he dipped inside for the right wing to fire a shot off the crossbar.
Walla Walla had two more opportunities to score in the next five minutes.
Quincy Castillo created a great counter attack, only to see an Edwin Romero cross just miss an out stretched sliding Andy arroyo.
Minutes later, a driven ball across the box from the right wing just missed a sliding Romero.
The relentless WWCC attack finally cashed in about 10 minutes after halftime, when Freddy Rodriguez helped Kevin Meraz-Rodriguez break the stalemate.
WWCC returned to action a year after finishing the 2017 season in the NWAC championship tournament semifinals with a 12-6-1 record overall.
The Warriors had gone 8-4 in the East Region, placing third, but back-to-back playoff upsets put them within a game of a shot at the conference title.
WWCC won its first-round matchup with Peninsula, a No. 2 seed from the North, with Freddy Rodriguez scoring the only goal unassisted in the 30th minute.
The Warriors then won an overtime shootout in the quarterfinals to knock off Portland, a No. 1 seed of the South.
WWCC went to the Final Four as its only non-No. 1 seed, but finished with a 4-1 loss in the semis to eventual conference champ Highline.
The 2018 Warriors welcome back a few of the key ingredients from last year.
Freddy Rodriguez returns after scoring nine goals, second most on the team, as a freshman. He made All-East Region.
Sergio Avalos, a sophomore defender, also made the honor roll last year while classmate Alex Grimaldo recorded four shutout wins in his 10 starts as goalie.