JJ Olson | Photo: Sonja Purtteman

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Oly Town Artesians will face the #1 seeded Tacoma Stars Reserves in the semfinals of the Western Indoor Soccer League on Saturday night, their first appearance in the WISL playoffs since the 2016-2017 season. First kick at the Tacoma Soccer Center is set for 6:30 PM.

The Artesians enter the playoffs after posting a 3-5-2 record during the regular season, a remarkable turnaround over the two previous seasons in which they went a combined 1-16-1. The team has built a competitive roster that upset three-time WISL champion and #2 seed Bellingham United, allowed the least amount of goals during a season in club history, and pushed the defending champion Stars Reserves to the brink in a one goal loss at home and a hard fought two goal loss on the road last weekend.

One of the biggest reasons for the turnaround is a healthy goalkeeper in Saint Martin’s alum, JJ Olson. Olson made nine starts this season after missing most of last season, allowing 47 goals for a 5.37 goals against average. The Lakeview, Minnesota native was named the WISL Defensive Player Of The Week twice this season, including last week for his 27 save performance against the Stars Reserves.

Timberline High School and Evergreen State College product Collin Tate led the team with eight goals while Capital grad Alec Zimmerman added seven. Another local product (Capital and Evergreen), Nate Boatright, anchors the defense and added four goals and seven assists in his sixth season with the Artesians. Newcomers Angel Trejo-Delgado and Manny Nicasio have given Oly Town a boost. Nicasio scored six times, while Trejo-Delgado scored twice including the game tying and game winning goals against Bellingham.

But to get to the championship, the Artesians will have to upset the #1 Stars Reserves, who finished this season 9-0-1, extending their unbeaten streak to 22 games. They have not lost since the 2018 WISL Championship game when they fell to Bellingham. Tacoma is an experience team featuring numerous players that are currently signed to the professional Major Arena Soccer League’s Tacoma Stars or former professional players. They are led by Nate Ford, who scored 12 goals this season, including one goal and three assists last week in their 4-2 win over the Artesians. Mike Arguello has been fantastic in goal again, leading the Stars Reserves to a league low 3.20 goals against per game average this season.

Tickets for the game are $12 for adults and can be purchased at the Tacoma Soccer Center door. For fans unable to attend on Saturday, the game will be webcast on the Artesians Network. Like Oly Town FC on Facebook at FB.com/OlyTownFC to access the link to the webcast.

TACOMA, Wash. – In a preview of next week’s Western Indoor Soccer League semfinals, the Oly Town Artesians cut a 3-0 Tacoma Stars Reserves lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter to just a one goal game before a controversial non-call led to Tacoma’s fourth goal and stopped the Artesians’ momentum, and despite one of Oly Town goalkeeper JJ Olson’s best games, the Stars Reserves held on for a 4-2 win. The Artesians will be the #4 seed in the WISL playoffs and will make a return trip to the Tacoma Soccer Center to face the #1 seeded Stars Reserves next Saturday at 6:30 PM.

The Stars Reserves got on the board first when Nate Ford took a pass from himself off the wall and scored his 12th goal of the season to make it 1-0 late in the first quarter. Tacoma dominated possession for much of the first half but Olson kept them at bay with numerous saves before JJ Schmeck snuck a shot near post off of a quick restart to make it 2-0, and the Stars held that two goal lead heading into the half.

The Artesians nearly tied the game early in the third quarter when Angel Trejo-Delgado took a ball away from Mark Lee and got Tacoma goalkeeper Alek Greenleaf to bite on a pass off the wall to himself, leaving the goal wide open. But Stars Reserve defender Jeff Bader slid in at the last second to knock the shot away and deny Trejo-Delgado. Minutes later, Tacoma took a three goal lead after a quick restart caught the Artesians off guard and Micah Wenzel wheeled and found the back of the net to make it 3-0.

Oly Town broke the shutout three minutes into the fourth quarter when Collin LaBranche took a pass off the wall from Collin Tate and banged it past Greenleaf to make it 3-1. Four minutes later, Tate scored one of his own, making it a one goal game, 3-2, with 8:42 left to play. The Artesians kept the pressure on, threatening to tie the game multiple times over the next three minutes until Ford and Olson got tied up on a pass into the box by Adrian Correa and Bader took advantage of Olson being pulled down to stop the Artesians momentum and make it 4-2 with six minutes left to play. Oly kept the pressure on but weren’t able to break through and dropped the regular season finale, 4-2.

The win extended the Stars Reserves unbeaten streak to 22 games and they finished 9-0-1 this season. The Artesians dropped to 3-5-2, finishing fourth in the WISL, one point behind the #3 seed Snohomish Skyhawks. The Stars Reserves and Artesians will face each other again on the same field next Saturday in the WISL semfinals.

Tacoma Stars Reserves goals: Nate Ford, JJ Schmeck, Micah Wenzel, Jeff Bader
Oly Town Artesians goals: Collin LaBranche, Collin Tate

Huge crowd, huge win, huge photo gallery! Sonja Purtteman delivers a load of pictures from our 7-4 victory over mighty Bellingham United. Thanks to her, all of our volunteers and staff, and to all of our fans for coming out and making this a great season at The Pavilion.

We have one more regular season game left in Tacoma on Saturday and then it is on to the semifinals, beginning on Saturday, February 15th in either Tacoma or Bellingham. The next time to see us at home will be on February 29th when we play our annual Austin Kelley testimonial game and the Artesians women’s indoor team takes the field for the first time.

Click here to see the full gallery