Bellevue 1-1 (5-4PKs) Lake Washington
Those were my wise words of wisdom between the end of regulation and the beginning of overtime. And I'm not sure they were directed at the players or just for myself. Kiley Suter had just slammed home the tying goal with less than 30 seconds left in regulation from yet another perfect corner from CarlieG. It was pandemonium. We had expended so much energy over the last 20 minutes to get back into the game. And the consequences of failure were dire: our season would end if we didn't get an equalizer. We were Rocky Balboa up against the ropes in the final round. We were the Seahawks deep in the fourth quarter against the Texans. We were the kids from Stranger Things as the shadow monster sent waves of demogorgons to destroy the good residents of Hopkins (too geeky?). But like Rocky, Russell Wilson, and Eleven, we found a way to get the job done at the last possible moment, in the most dramatic way possible. As I've written in the past, LW is tired of seeing #23 from Bellevue. Clutch. Clutch. Clutch. I'm glad she's on our team.
In overtime, 80 minutes after the opening whistle, we finally settled down and began to play Bellevue soccer. We moved the ball quickly and simply from midfield up our wings. And then combined centrally to create chances. We had several opportunities to win the game in overtime, but the LW keeper was outstanding, making save after save and even getting some needed help from her crossbar. And with overtimes only 5 minutes long, we simply didn't have enough time to finish the job before we were forced into dreaded penalty kicks. In the end the game was decided by shootout. A tie-breaker as much about nerves and will, as talent and skill. Goalkeeper versus shooter. The first four shooters from each team calmly scored with impressive poise (CarlyT, then Caylee, then AnaJ, then Jo...). Then the fifth LW shooter stepped up...tension palpable, and Annika dove to her left and made the save to give Kiley the chance to win it with the last shot. And just like Rocky in the last round, Russel in the 4th quarter, or psychic badass Eleven in Stranger Things, up stepped Kiley Suter with the game on the line. And of course she knocked out Clubber Lane, threw to Jimmy Graham in the end zone, and killed the demogorgon. Goal and victory. More pandemonium. Hugs. Tears. And piles of teenagers in the middle of the field.
And so we move on to play Redmond on Thursday at Redmond. Exact time is TBD but we'll let everyone know as soon as possible.
Despite slightly ragged possession play throughout, our defensive shape was very solid all night: LW had 4 shots over the entire game (we had 14 shots by my count) and Annika's first stressful save didn't come until overtime from a fiercely hit free kick (I don't count the LW goal as an LW shot...enough said about that). Well done to Sky, Mia, Caylee, Court and Claire and the players in front of them for playing great cover defense all night. Caylee was consistently able to clean up loose balls because we were able to challenge for each entry pass and LW didn't get the chance to make many uncontested passes in our attacking third; I couldn't be happier for Annika in making that save to help win the game. As I've said before, goalkeepers need to have short memories and be mentally tough. When it mattered most, Annika was there for us; and with 20 minutes left in the game, we took out one of our center-backs and added another forward, in the attempt to find an equalizer. It only works if our remaining back three are able to thwart counter-attacks playing evenly...so special recognition to Claire, Caylee and Court for anchoring our attempt to get back into the game while still flying forward to support our attack; and congratulations once again to all of our seniors who will always have a winning memory from their last game on Bellevue stadium turf. Our road to the 3A final four will have to be achieved on the road for the remainder of our season, but that's OK, because of the last-minute heroics from so many players, we have the opportunity to keep playing...
let's savor that opportunity. Let's make it count for something. Next up: Redmond.
But a little less drama would be okay too.