BHS 3-0 Mercer Island
18th min Leah (Mia)
50th min Mia (Kendall)
62nd min Leah (Mia)
Rivalry games are always intense. The added layer of emotion spread over a contest between two schools that are just a few miles apart magnifies everything: the pressure, the fun, the joy, the physicality and the competitiveness. And so it was last night.
The game was chippy throughout, admittedly from both sides, so the refereeing crew was busy keeping the game at a simmer rather than at a full boil. I'm proud of our girls for how they handled themselves. Everyone on the field had to ride out tackles and endure the occasional "argie bargie" as the British might smirkily understate the action. But physical games are part of our sport, and MI won't be the last team to try kick us out of our possession rhythm. So it was a good test.
After the first 10 minutes of frenetic rivalry pace, we settled down and began creating chances. So it wasn't a surprise that we opened the scoring in the 18th minute as Mia beat her defender inside and slipped a filthy good pass to Leah at the far post to smash low past the MI keeper. 1-0 Bellevue. And that's how it stayed until halftime, and although we were creating significantly more chances (9 shots to 2 shots in the half), the chances that MI created were dangerous. We conceded two corners, and Amirah proved why she's one of the best goalkeepers in Kingco during the 2nd, punching clear before smothering the follow-up shot. Good defense relies on all 11 players doing their job, but the cornerstone of that team effort is confident and capable goalkeeping, and we certainly got that versus MI. Well done Amirah.
The second half was both better, and worse, than the first half. It was better because as MI tired the spaces opened up and we were able to assert ourselves in midfield. It was worse in that as MI chased the game, they resorted to even more aggressive tactics to try and disrupt our increasing possession. A chippy game got even chippier. Which is probably why our next goal didn't come from patient possession, but rather from an excellent counter-attack. In the 49th minute, MI had a free-kick 35 yards from our goal and lobbed the ball into our box. Lily rose the highest and sent a commanding header to Lillian who turned her defender and was suddenly free at midfield. And we were off. Lillian carried the ball to the center circle and found a sprinting Kendall on the right. Ken took a magnificent first touch to control, then slipped a perfect pass into the path of Mia on the left wing (doing a good job of avoiding offsides in the process). Mia took a great first touch into space and beat the keeper to the far post with composed low finish. So barely 12 seconds from when MI launched a free kick into our box, we were the team with the 2-0 advantage. Lightning.
And then the whistles began to increase. Frustration plus tired legs equals hard clumsy fouls. It's a dangerous formula. But despite the play becoming more herky-jerky, we scored another goal in the 62nd minute. Leah won the ball at midfield with good back-checking, poking the ball to Lexi at right back. Lexi hit a magnificent first-time ball to Mia at striker, who cut-back and found Leah who was overlapping the attack after wining the ball just a moment earlier. Leah weaved through two MI defenders before unleashing a powerful low shot to the far right post from 20 yds. It was a goal of the highest quality by everyone involved. 3-0 Bellevue.
The game felt tightly contested, but the statistics were not: we had 18/3 vs. 7/2 shot/corner advantage for the game. MI had several excellent chances, but we did enough to deny them a goal and preserve our shutout. The 6th in eight games. Overall it was a gritty but glorious performance.
And now we move onto the most important stretch of our Kingco season. In the next three consecutive games we play Liberty (tied #3 in Kingco), LW (#2) and then Juanita (tied #3). All three games will be very competitive, and will likely determine where we will be positioned going into the Kingco league tournament. Atop the standings is a worhty goal.
Finally, the first statewide RPI ranking was released this week marking the mid-point of the season. RPI rankings will eventually be one tool that a committe uses to determine state tournament seeding. It's an imperfect algorithm, but it was still nice to see our girls ranked as the #1 team in 3A.
See you all next Tuesday, as Bellevue (#1) takes on Liberty.