Bellevue 5-1 Liberty
5th min Leah (Mia)
12th min Mia (Cami)
23rd min Mia (unassisted)
35th min Cami (Lillian)
43rd min Liberty PK
51st min Lily (Emily)
Wow. That was an amazing night. I loved everything about our senior night celebration. Our seniors spotlighted beneath the bell before ringing their way onto our home field for their last Kingco league game was very special. As were the recorded messages thanking their families for their support. Every detail was perfect. To everyone involved in producing the evening, from the seniors themselves, to their families, to the parent volunteers: Thank you. Nights like that are why I love high school sports.
And once the game began, the quality of our overall play matched the emotion of our ceremony. We simply sparkled from the opening whistle to the very end. It began with a counter-attacking goal of speed and grace, Hinana won the ball deep in our half, poking the ball to Leah on the right wing. Leah charged into space, played a flowing wall pass with Mia, and then smashed a 25 yard shot past a helpless Liberty keeper. Clinical. 1-0 Bellevue. Our second goal was equally impressive and also on the counter. From a dangerous Liberty corner kick in the 12th minute, we cleared well and Mia regained possession, droping a simple ball to Hinana racing out of our box supporting the counter-attack. As she has done all season, Hinana picked a breath-takingly simple one-touch pass wide to a sprinting Leah who re-created her charge down the right wing just a few minutes before. Leah found Mia centrally at a full sprint, she spun and rotated the ball to Kendall who had also sprinted out of our box in support. Kendall found Cami on the overlap on the left wing, she crossed into the box and the Liberty keeper was only able to parry the ball back into the danger-area where Mia finished off of the rebound. 2-0 Bellevue. Lethal counter-attack. Less then 10 minutes later and we struck again, Mia picked off a wayward Liberty pass at the centerline and charged at the heart of the Liberty defense. Lillian and Kendall both made support runs to the left and right, which split the Liberty defenders and created even more space which Mia exploited beautifully. She just kept going. Outracing the centerbacks and finishing to the far post past the keeper. It was an extraordinary individual goal that was aided by excellent off-the-ball supporting runs by Lill and Ken. Even superb individual moments are made possible by smart off-the-ball movement by teammates (but of course, Mia's mazy run and finish was spectacular all by itself).
We added a fourth goal in the 35th minute. And wow, what a goal. Kendall won the ball deep in the liberty half and dropped to Hinana who again picked the right pass with a single deft-touch to find Lexi on the right wing. Lexi cut inside and caressed a perfect ball into space on the right wing for Lillian who drove to the endline before sending a beautiful high cross into the box...where Cami met the ball at full sprint, thundering a header into the back of the net. 4-0 Bellevue. Just a wonderful goal from a senior on senior night. Halftime.
With the game secured, things got a little weird in the second half. The referee awarded Liberty a penalty kick in the 42nd minute in which the video clearly shows that the Liberty players own momentum caused her to fall down, untouched, with two Bellevue defenders in perfect defensive positions. Sigh. It happens. And I'm thankful it wasn't a tighter game where such a mistake could've impacted the final result. Sabrina guessed correctly on the PK and almost made a wonderful save, but the ball just made it's way across the line. 4-1. We responded well to the Liberty goal, maintaining possession for long stretches of the second half, trying to keep tackles at a minimum so that both teams could enter post-season as healthy as possible. We did off-set the Liberty PK with a goal of our own in the 50th minute, as Emily hit a perfect corner into the danger area where Lily hit a downward header (the best kind of header from a corner) into the net from 6 yards. Great header, great goal. Full time score: 5-1 Bellevue. A big exclamation point on a perfect Kingco league season. 12 wins. no losses or ties. As I've written before, perfect seaons in Kingco are rare given the historical competitive parity in our league. It is a special accomplishment. And I hope we can keep the momentum going as we approach post-season play.
A few words about our opponent. Liberty is an outstanding team and they play beautiful soccer. Due to the smoke cancellations from last week, Liberty was forced to play three games in consecutive days, and entered our game after a tough and physical 0-0 OT tie against Lake Washington the night before. To their credit, they gave it their all last night, but on very weary legs. I wish them well in the Kingco playoffs after some much deserved rest.
And now we move into our post-season. We play Lake Washington in the Kingco Tournament Championshp game on Tuesday, Nov 1st at 7:30 at Bellevue Stadium. If we win, we earn a bid to the State tournament and likely a top seed. If we don't, we would need to play again on Tuesday, Nov 3rd against Liberty/Juanita/MI for the final Kingco birth into the State Tournament (likely without a top seed). Single elimination 3A state tournament round of 16/quarterfinals are Nov 11th and 12th. And the Final Four is Nov 18th and 19th.
5 is the magic number. Here we go.
Finally, a congratulations to our JVC and JV players for outstanding seasons. Our JV clinched the Kingco title with a very competitive win against a good Liberty team 2-0. Well done.