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WINLOCK — In 23 years, Toledo/Winlock United boys’ soccer coach Horst Malunat has one state tournament win.

It came Tuesday at Winlock, against Colville in a convincing 4-0 win that sends United to play against Wahluke in the Class 1A State quarterfinals. Gustavo Barragan scored a hat trick, and goalkeeper Alan Contreras finished with his 11th shutout of the season.

“It’s above my expectations. I just wanted to win,” Malunat said. “I think that this was a 180 from the La Center game as far as our play, our hustle. This is how I want us to play every game.”

United lost 2-0 to La Center in the Southwest 1A District championship game.

“The nice thing was hosting here. I don’t think we’ve lost here in about three years,” Malunat said. “This is a good feeling for me personally, and I know the team is super excited. It’s been a long time coming, so we’re excited.”

Barragan scored United’s first goal inside the first 10 minutes after working through the middle of Colville’s defense, and United finished the half with a 1-0 lead.

The team came out firing in the second half, though, applying constant pressure that culminated in Barragan’s second goal in the 50th minute, and third goal in the 58th minute.

“It feels great because the last three years we’ve always lost to a private school in Seattle,” Barragan said. “We win districts and then end up losing in front of our fans. It’s always been sad. Today’s win felt great because we finally got a win in front of our fans.”

Andreas Malunat provided the assist on the first and third Barragan goals, and Isaac Garibay fed Barragan for his second score. Malunat also scored in the 70th minute.

“We really appreciated what (the grounds crew) did to set up the field and get it ready to play on grass instead of turf,” Barragan said. “I think that helped a lot.”

United lost 1-0 on turf to Overlake in last year’s state opener, and appeared to be out of rhythm as the ball moved with extreme haste. United lost 4-0 to University Prep in 2016, on the turf of Centralia’s Tiger Stadium.

It wasn’t just familiarity with the field and scoring that catapulted United to its first state victory, it was the defense of the backfield and Contreras. It’s hard to lose if the other team doesn’t score, after all.

“It’s been tough because we have a completely different defense than we had last year,” coach Malunat said. “You can say we scored four goals, but our team defense was really good.”

Brandon Cruz and David VanVleck were staples in United’s defensive unit in previous seasons, but have since graduated. Dawson Hall was mentioned by Malunat as someone who’s taken the reins and been a vocal leader, but Contreras has been one of the Trico 1A’s premier goalkeepers.

“The only thing that hasn’t changed is Alan,” Barragan said. “He’s done a great job in communicating with them and helping them get a lot better.”

No doubt, it’s also an easier day on Contreras when the offense is attacking the opposing goal.

“It was tough in the beginning, but after we got the first goal, things went great,” Contreras said. “We got motivated after that, and in the second half, came out and did what we needed to do.”

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Sports Reporter

Jason is a journeyman sports reporter who has covered the Golden State Warriors, Oakland A's, along with a heavy emphasis on the Oakland Raiders. He comes to Cowlitz County from Oakland, Calif. and is a loving father.

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