Highlanders win rivalry match

April 2, 2015

By Christina Corrales-Toy

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The Hazen High School student turnout was small.

Not more than a dozen students made the very short trip to Liberty High School March 19, where their boys soccer team took on the rival Patriots.

Even with their lack of numbers, the cheers that emanated from the section after the game ended in a 2-1 Hazen victory were deafening.

While the Highlanders celebrated the big nonleague win over its Renton rivals, for Liberty, it was just another match.

“They’re our rivals, they’re across town, but it’s just a preseason game,” senior midfielder Tyler Jensen said. “We’re all just having fun out here.”

By Greg Farrar Zach Quensel (center), Hazen High School junior forward, celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Robbie Schroeder (18) and Reyes Garcia in their March 19 match against Liberty.

By Greg Farrar
Zach Quensel (center), Hazen High School junior forward, celebrates his first-period goal with teammates Robbie Schroeder (18) and Reyes Garcia in their March 19 match against Liberty.

Hazen appeared to have the upper hand for most of the first half, controlling ball possession for the majority. But it took some time for the Highlanders to find the net, despite a few good looks.

Junior forward Zach Quensel scored the game’s first goal in the 28th minute, giving Hazen a 1-0 lead as the teams headed into halftime.

When the squads returned to the pitch for the second half, the Patriots wasted no time in evening the score.

Jensen picked up an assist after connecting with junior Bradley Jarvis in the 43rd minute.

“I didn’t even know who scored until I got back here,” Jensen said. “I just saw a scramble, ball went in the goal and that’s all I could see from my point.”

As the game went on, the pace and play made it seem like this one was headed to a draw, but Hazen’s Reyes Garcia had other plans.

With an assist from teammate Drew Wilson, a Hazen freshman, Garcia scored what would be the winning goal in the 59th minute.

“I saw the ball and I said, ‘I’m going to take the ball, I’m going to win it,’” Garcia said. “It doesn’t matter how tall they are, I’m going to win it.”

It wasn’t just another game for Hazen, Garcia said. His team relished the experience of defeating their neighbors, even if it was a nonleague game.

By Greg Farrar Drew Wilson, Hazen High School freshman midfielder, and Liberty senior midfielder Tyler Jensen vie for the ball during the second period of their March 19 soccer match.

By Greg Farrar
Drew Wilson, Hazen High School freshman midfielder, and Liberty senior midfielder Tyler Jensen vie for the ball during the second period of their March 19 soccer match.

“It means a lot,” Garcia said. “Hazen and Liberty, we’re big-time rivals, and we knew that this was one of the top teams last year in KingCo.”

With a tough KingCo 3A/2A Conference to traverse, Jensen added that Liberty will learn from the loss and simply look ahead to the next game.

Expectations are high for the Patriots, as noted in the team’s early-season ranking as the No. 5 team in the state at 2A, according to The Seattle Times.

This year’s Liberty squad has a lot of talent, Jensen said, but it must fill a big hole with the loss of graduated superstar Colton Ronk, now playing at Highline Community College.

“It’s a big void to replace, but we’ve got a lot of people stepping up,” Jensen said. “We’ve got Nate Steenis, Leoul Hancock and Ryan Graham moved up from defense. A lot of guys are putting in work in the middle.”

You won’t find Hazen’s name among the ranked, but that doesn’t deter this close-knit team from working their tails off to reach their goal of qualifying for state, Garcia said.

“This team is all about chemistry,” he said. “We’re family here at Hazen, and as long as we stick together, sky’s the limit.”

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