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Saturday, May 19, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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High School Sports

Class 3A boys soccer semifinals: Dragavon saves day for Monroe in semis

Seattle Times staff reporter

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EVERETT - Many of his Monroe teammates were relatively inexperienced in pressure situations, but Bearcat goalkeeper Ben Dragavon had been there before.

The junior displayed his mettle in the penalty-kick shootout, making two saves and scoring a goal to lead Monroe past Lakeside 2-1 yesterday in a Class 3A boys soccer state semifinal game at Everett Memorial Stadium. The Bearcats outscored the Lions 4-2 in the shootout.

Monroe (19-3) advanced to the championship game at 5 p.m. today against Mercer Island (17-2-2), a 1-0 semifinal winner over West Valley of Yakima. It is the furthest a boys soccer team from Monroe has advanced in the state high-school playoffs

Lakeside of Seattle (18-2), which had its 18-game winning streak snapped, plays West Valley (22-1) for third place at 11 a.m. today.

To reach the title game, Monroe had to hold on for a 1-1 tie in regulation against Lakeside, which played for the state title last season. After two overtime periods came the decisive shootout, in which Dragavon stopped back-to-back Lion attempts. Eric Natividad bounced a kick past Lakeside goalkeeper Will Strong to seal Monroe's win.

"They've been here before, and we're not supposed to be here," Dragavon said. "I wasn't too nervous. You have to block it (the pressure) out."

Dragavon has been in goal for his club team, the Cascade Avalanche of Everett, making saves in important games. His presence of mind saved the Bearcats.

"One thing Ben has going for him is he has so much confidence," Bearcat Coach Paul Hurme said. "I'll go to war with him any day. I thought he'd get at least one save in the penalties."

The first two penalty shooters for both teams made their attempts before Dragavon guessed right on the next two Lakeside shots. Brett Walsh scored to give Monroe a 3-2 lead, and Natividad followed with his goal.

Monroe took a 1-0 lead on Josh Carswell's brilliant goal early in the second half. Carswell dribbled through several Lions and slid the ball into the net on the run. The Lions tied the score with 7:40 to play when Josha Nathan got a foot on Noah Jaffe's corner kick and sent the ball past Dragavon.

Monroe 2, Lakeside 1, shootout (Monroe goal - Josh Carswell (un) 55:24. Lakeside goal - Josha Nathan (Noah Jaffe) 72:20. Shootout goals - Monroe: Ben Dragavon, Carswell, Brett Walsh, Eric Natividad; Lakeside: Daniel Benedetti, Jason Dexter. Records - Monroe 19-3, Lakeside 18-2).

Mercer Island 1, West Valley (Yakima) 0

Mercer Island outplayed West Valley of Yakima for 70 minutes with nothing to show for it. But as the final 10 minutes of regulation time began, the underdog Islanders finally reaped the benefits of their outstanding play.

Jeff Miller received a pass, streaked past three Ram defenders and scored the only goal as Mercer Island defeated previously unbeaten West Valley. It was the first loss after 22 wins for West Valley, ranked No. 7 in the nation by USA Today.

The Islanders will make their first appearance in the boys state-championship game today.

"That's my game right there - speed," Miller said. "I'm sure we had a lot more shots on goal then they did. There were three or four I didn't put away in the first half. It's awesome being the underdog, because you have nothing to lose."

The Islanders, the No. 2 seed from KingCo 3A, pounded West Valley's defense with numerous scoring chances in the first half.

Still, the Rams had a perfect opportunity to take the lead late in the half, but back-to-back shots on goal hit the crossbar and sailed over the net.

In the second half, West Valley forward Aaron Nonnenmacher's point-blank blast missed with 15 minutes left. The Rams never had a strong scoring chance thereafter.

Miller's goal came with 9:40 to play. Two Islander goalkeepers, Ted Kinch and Collin Gumprecht, shut out the Rams to preserve the victory.

"We knew we could compete with them and do well," Islander Coach Steve Newman said. "We knew they had a great goalkeeper. They could use some competition in their league. We're here to win the state championship."

Mercer Island 1, West Valley (Yakima) 0 (MI goal - Jeff Miller (Duke Biggers) 70:20. Shutout - Ted Kinch, Collin Gumprecht. Records - Mercer Island 17-2-2, West Valley 22-1).

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