#1 Bellevue 0-0 (4-3) #9 Shorewood
PK scorers: Gaby, Emily, Mia, Lexi
I want to make one thing perfectly clear: we aren't trying to go to a shootout in every tournament game. In fact, I'd very much like to avoid any more shootouts for the rest of our season. But for the third game in a row, we found ourselves standing in a line at midfield, arms linked over each other's shoulders before making the long walk to the PK spot. Our girls held their nerve, and hit their kicks confidently; but unlike our previous two shootouts, we were the first team shooting, which meant that when Shorewood's 5th shooter put the ball on the spot, she had a chance to extend the shootout into extra sudden-death kicks. But Amirah upheld a long goal-keeper sorority tradition by saving the decisive penalty kick, triggering a gleeful sprint to be the first player to hug our hero goalie. Victory Bellevue. And breathe. (history lesson: in 2017 (with coach Annika as hero keeper) we prevailed in 3 shootouts to make the 3A Final Four; and again in 2019 we got 3 shootout victories in our run to the 3A Championship game (Ashley Heintz as hero keeper)...but this is the first time we've done it in three consecutive games. I sincerely hope that we don't set a new shootout record next weekend, but we'll do it if we need to...).
Most importantly, our senior class got to walk off of the Bellevue Stadium turf for their final time with smiles instead of tears. Undefeated. That's extraordinary. From an extraordinary group of young women.
The game itself was what you'd expect from two teams who had played a tough overtime quarterfinal battle less than 24 hours earlier. The effort was there, but first touches were heavier than usual, and passes occassionally didn't find their intended destination. Understandable. Both defenses were very organized and that kept chances to a minimum. We had slightly more dangerous opportunities (Lillian's late shot smashed at the upper right corner and Hinana's cut-back shot both required great saves by the Shorewood keeper); however, it wasn't a huge mismatch. It was two good teams on weary legs trying to find a moment of magic that never arrived. So commisserations to a very good Shorewood team, they played with grit and determination, and I'm thankful that our team is the one that gets to plan another week of practices. (also special kudos to Kaitlyn, who got her first minutes of varsity playoff soccer in an extended performance, and did a wonderful job containing Shorewood's star midfielder).
Now we are one of four teams left in the State Tournament. It's the 4th Final Four appearance in the last six playoff seasons for our program, so we don't need to ask for directions to Sparks Stadium. We know the way. We play on Friday, Nov 18th at 3pm against Wesco Champion #4 Shorecrest (18-1-1). Shorecrest beat #13 LW 1-0 in the round of 16, and #5 Peninsula 3-0 in their quarterfinal to earn their Final Four birth. The winner of our game gets to compete for a State Championship at 3pm on Saturday, Nov 19th against the winner of #11 Seattle Prep vs. #7 Roosevelt: a match-up of two very good Metro League teams who upset the #3 and #2 seeds in their quarterfinals. The consolation final for 3rd/4th place is at 11am on Nov 19th. So if the opportunity to win a State Championship isn't enough motivation going into our semi-final, perhaps avoiding an early morning Saturday wake-up and bus ride will be enough to see us through to a later kick-off.
Stay tuned for more details about Friday logistics. The girls will need to leave school early as we make our way to Sparks. Traditionally, we have had parents and students send the team off from the front of the school as we board the bus to Puyallup.
Thank you to the extended Bellevue Girls Soccer community for supporting this team. It's been a very special ride so far, and I'm already looking forward to next weekend.
Magic number is two.