Two goals from Clarens Dollin lift Pullman soccer to a district championship

May 9—PULLMAN — Pullman's Evan French slipped the soccer ball to teammate Clarens Dollin on the left side, then Dollin found a sliver of space in the stout West Valley defense and fired a rocket to the right corner of the net for the Greyhounds' second goal of the day.

Sequences like that between French and Dollin have been regular occurrences during Pullman's stellar boys soccer season this spring.

Their latest connection helped the Greyhounds seal a 2-0 victory against the Eagles to win a Washington 2A district championship Wednesday at Pullman High School.

"It feels great, man," Dollin said. "It feels good to play as a team. Winning is not easy against that team because they've got a lot of bodies there and they're pretty strong and fast, too, so glad we got it and we beat them."

The best part for the Hounds? West Valley's solid record of 11-5 and No. 13 ranking in the RPI should boost Pullman's strength of schedule in the eyes of the seeding committee heading into the 2A state tournament.

Pullman (15-1-2) is ranked No. 7 in the RPI — a computer ranking that is used to help seed teams for postseason play.

"Today we played a good team ... so getting a win against (the No.) 13 is super helpful going into the seeding on Sunday," Pullman coach Doug Winchell said. "That's the best possible team we could've played."

Dollin, French pace the Hounds

Pullman (15-1-2) has scored a whopping 95 goals this season — the most by far since Winchell took over the program 17 years ago.

Fifty-one of those goals have been scored by Dollin and French — and that's with Dollin missing four games earlier this season.

"We've scored a lot of goals and so many times it's how they play each other that sets each other up in a little space," Winchell said. "They have a good sense of where the player's gonna be and how to serve them, and they finesse it through well."

Turning defense into offense

The Greyhounds rarely let the Eagles onto their half of the field Wednesday, but whenever they did, they quickly turned it into an attack of their own.

On the first goal in the 16th, Pullman defender Leo Hoffman stole the ball away from the West Valley counter and played a long ball straight up the field to the speeding Dollin.

That was all the space the crafty junior forward needed to hammer in his 22nd goal of the season.

"That was just a great service," Winchell said of the pass. "If you give him a good service and get him in a spot where Clarens can face up 1-vs-1, Clarens is going to make you pay."

The second goal started in similar fashion on the defensive end when Pullman's Benjamin Campbell cleared the ball with a header deep down the field.

Winchell also praised the play of defender Nick Neville, who multiple times used his speed to switch field position by dribbling the ball all the way down himself, as well as midfielder Leon Lange and goalkeeper Aaron Oatley, among others.

Oatley didn't have to do much, but he had a diving save in the first half that kept Pullman in the lead, 1-0.

"In my 17 years with the boys, we're as good as we've been," Winchell said. "They just play at a really high soccer level."

On the other end, West Valley goalkeeper Brice Abbey made seven saves.

Up next

Pullman heads to State for the third straight season. It will learn its seeding and where it will play Sunday. The Eagles are also headed to State.

When asked about his goals going forward in the postseason, Dollin had a simple answer:

"Score goals, just do what it takes to win," Dollin said. "Score goals, man."

West Valley 0 0—0

Pullman 1 1—2

Pullman — Clarens Dollin (Leo Hoffman), 16th.

Pullman — Dollin (Evan French), 45th.

Shots — West Valley 3; Pullman 12. Saves — West Valley: Brice Abbey 7; Pullman: Aaron Oatley 2.

Wiebe may be contacted at (208) 848-2260, or on Twitter @StephanSports.