SOC-RCSoccer

Riverside Christian players celebrate after defeating Orcas Island in a Class 1B-2B boys state qarterfinal soccer match on Saturday, Nov. 16, 2019, in Anacortes, Wash.

A potent offense led by senior Levi Rivera carried Riverside Christian back to the 1B/2B state semifinals for the second straight year.

As one of three senior captains alongside midfielder Sam Allen and defender Samuel Myers — known to his teammates as “Ryan” — Rivera scored nearly 40 goals, including one in last Saturday’s 2-1 quarterfinal win over Orcas Island. The Crusaders scored at least three goals in 10 of 16 matches and were only shut out once, in a seeding game at St. George’s when coaches decided to try to give some younger players more experience.

But coach Tim Frazier knows defense will need to be more of a priority for Riverside Christian to get past a familiar semifinal opponent on Friday. Life Christian beat Riverside Christian 8-3 on Oct. 1 and 7-3 on Oct. 24 as part of its 15-2-1 season.

“They’ve been a thorn in our side,” Frazier said. “We were able to score, which was nice. They’re a very dominant team.”

He hopes a new defensive strategy focused on containing Life Christian’s top scorer will help, and he expects his team to be more prepared for the turf at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner. The Crusaders kept their grass extra short on their home field off Keys Road and learned how to handle the ball better on a faster surface.

Brothers Sam and Dan Allen bring club soccer experience and good chemistry to the middle of the Riverside Christian midfield. Frazier said the Crusaders also benefit from the leadership of their eight seniors looking to improve on last year’s fourth-place finish.

Reach Luke Thompson at luthompson@yakimaherald.com.