TUMWATER — When No. 5 Toledo arrived for its first round state matchup against No. 12 Friday Harbor, the Riverhawks were understandably nervous, but excited to hit the field and get going.
Toledo arrived at Black Hills High School at 12:45 p.m., with the expectation that warmups would commence soon and that the game would start at 2 p.m. But after a ferry delayed the Wolverines, the Riverhawks had to play the waiting game.
That wait paid off, as Toledo beat Friday Harbor, 1-0, to advance to the state quarterfinals against No. 4 Mount Vernon Christian on Saturday.
“Today we struggled a lot, it was very sluggish,” Toledo coach Noel Vazquez said. “There was almost no emotion at the beginning of the game. We got on the vans to get here and we were really excited and hyped to be here and then it just deflated as we were waiting. Lucky for us we got through it and hopefully we show up a little more energetic on Saturday.”
In a low-energy contest on both sides, the Riverhawks really struggled to convert on set pieces in the first half. Though they had chances, Toledo is still adjusting to playing on turf as opposed to its natural grass field back home.
“We’ve been working a lot on this whole turf situation, it always takes us a while to adjust,” Vazquez said. “It’s part of it, we’re going to keep working on it and trying new things as we go. It’s not going to get easier from here on, so we hope we can continue.”
The Riverhawks finally broke through early in the second half, when senior Vanesa Rodriguez put a ball through the back of the net in the 52nd minute. That goal was enough to stave off the Wolverines the rest of the way and take home an opening round victory.
“Give a lot of credit to Friday Harbor, being in the state tournament is like a whole new season,” Vazquez said. The girls are not content with how they played, but we’re really happy that we made it through at least today and live to see another day. Vanesa just played her heart out today.”
The win means that Toledo will rematch against the same squad that ousted them in the last state tournament in 2019, a Mount Vernon Christian team that ran away with its league this season.
The Hurricanes beat this same Friday Harbor squad, 5-0, recently in a district title match.
“This is where we ended our run a couple years ago, to be back in the same spot against the same team has some meaning,” Vazquez said. “Hopefully we go up there and perform.”
That game will be played in Anacortes on Saturday.