Bellevue (0-1 OT) Lake Washington
In a very tight game against a worthy opponent, our girls played magnificently, but succumbed to a golden goal in the first overtime period by LW's senior midfielder and league MVP. It was a game that flowed back and forth all night. And although clear chances were limited by two very organized defenses, both teams had several chances to win in regulation. It was just a great game of soccer, evenly contested throughout. By my count, the offensive statistics were even with BHS 7/4 vs. LW 6/5 shots/corners, but again, in the playoffs, the statistics don't really matter. The margins are thin, and often the game turns on one or two instances across the 80+ minutes. Last night it was the quality of the cross from LW's left winger in the 84th minute, and the quick movement from their goalscorer to stab home from 3 yards out leaving Izzy no chance at a save. Am I disappointed? Of course. Winning a championship game, whether it's in the league or at state, is a rare opportunity. But I'm also immensely proud of how our team played last night. We played with toughness, creativity and determination all night. We never backed down from an aggressive LW line-up, and were unfortunate to end up on the wrong side of the celebration last night.
Despite the setback, our season isn't over. Far from it. Earning a spot in the Kingco championship game comes with both opportunity (one win to state) and optionality (2nd chance to qualify), and so now we take the alternate path to state. The first step in that path is defending our home field on Thursday night versus Mercer Island at 7pm. For drama, I can't imagine a more perfect opponent in a playoff elimination game than the Islanders.
Our junior goalkeeper had a great game. On a slick night in which the ball skipped and slipped across the turf, Izzy made great decisions on when to come out of her box to clear entry passes before they could become dangerous; In front of Izzy, our team defense was excellent, with special kudos to our backline of Ava, Audrey, Julia, Zoe & Imme who were always on their "front foot" and denying entry passes while covering for each other all night; The LW midfield is one of the best in the state...and I wouldn't trade any of our midfielders for a single Kang last night: Hinana, Halle & Paige were outstanding. Their relentless work-rate and soccer intelligence was on full display. Just excellent. Up front we created the chances we needed, while also pinning their defenders upfield with smart pressing. Well done Ally, Court, Mo, Chloe and Rebekah. All gave great minutes last night. And to our twelves...it was one of the most supportive and positive nights from our bench all season. I got the sense that each player was ready if their number was called, so even if it wasn't called last night, I know they be ready if required tomorrow vs. MI. Finally, our parents and supporters were wonderful (special shout-out to Katie Craig and her merry band of student supporters...I absolutely loved their contribution last night). Thank you for supporting the team with such positivity and enthusiasm.