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Friday, May 7, 1999 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Auburn Puts On A Tie, Then Celebrates Title

Special To The Seattle Times

AUBURN - When the final whistle sounded in their soccer game with Auburn Riverside, the Auburn Trojans whooped and hollered, then doused Coach John York with the Gatorade.

That might seem unusual, considering they tied Auburn Riverside 1-1 in a rain-soaked, wind-swept SPSL North Division game last night.

But the tie gave the Trojans (9-3-2, 11-3-2 overall) the SPSL North Division title. They have 20 points in the standings, two ahead of the Ravens (8-3-2, 9-4-2). Even if Auburn Riverside were to beat Kentlake tomorrow and become co-champions, Auburn would have the tiebreaker over the Ravens for the No. 1 seed in the SPSL playoffs next week. They will play South Division winner Thomas Jefferson for the SPSL championship.

"I must have checked the points over 47 times," said York. "We own the tiebreakers over them."

The SPSL North title is the first for Auburn since 1986, when York was a player.

"This was a very tough league," he said. "We just happened to be the one who would take it."

Auburn Riverside scored first in the 13th minute on Joe Watson's 20th goal of the season, but both play and the weather deteriorated. The Trojans were hit with a yellow card, but Riverside had two yellows, both on Watson, who was ejected late in the first half after the second for arguing a foul call.

"That was huge," said Riverside Coach Dave Winter of Watson's ejection. "He's our target guy, the key to our attack. He makes everyone else around him better. But it was huge not having him in there."

Auburn took advantage of Watson's absence.

The Trojans scored the tying goal in the 65th minute. After a corner kick was knocked out by the Ravens, Mike Gallegos sent a pass to Kelly Dahl, who sent a shot past Raven goalkeeper Jeremy Proud.

A minute later, Auburn goalie Gene Um made a save on Brian Iblings. Another shot by Iblings on a free kick in the 68th minute went off the crossbar.

Twelve minutes later, Auburn celebrated the division title. The win also completed a four-year trek for the seniors from a 0-12-4 record in the 1996 season.

"They wanted to culminate their senior year as winners," said York.

Copyright (c) 1999 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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