Bellevue 1-2 Skyline
32nd min Skyline goal from 5yds
37th min Skyline goal #21 dribblepalooze
58th min Alex (Maddy)
It had to end sometime. And if it had to end, conceding two goals to defending 4A state champions Skyline is an understandable and honorable ending. But we don't have to like it. We didn't earn our defeat with generally poor play, nor did we get outplayed (shots, corners, and possession, were all in our favor), but Skyline won the statistic that matters most: goals scored. And so yours truly has to exercise "moral victory" coaching cliche muscles that have nearly atrophied from disuse. Our last varsity loss in a non-shootout regular season game was on October 5th, 2021 against Mercer Island when several players were still wearing masks, almost two full years ago. Many players on our varsity roster have never lost a game while wearing a Bellevue uniform...but perfection is unrealistic (although worthy to pursue), so it had to end sometime. Our sport is too fickle to maintain our VIP access pass to Club Perfect forever. And the strongest lessons are those when the scoreboard isn't flattering to your side (oh yes, the coaching cliches are still there and ready to flex again...but hopefully not too often).
First, playing in big games takes additional focus on the little things. Small mistakes are magnified and punished by better teams: First-touches, poor positioning and field awareness, bobbled passing, over-dribbling in silly places, sloppy tackling, wasteful finishing...all little things that we usually overcome with overall quality. But we weren't quite good enough on Tuesday to get it done. Which isn't to say that I'm totally displeased with our performance, on the contrary, I thought that for most of the night, our team rose to the challenge. The effort was excellent, and there were delightful phases when we looked unstoppable going forward, and relentlessly tough in our defense. We outshot the Spartans comfortably 16/3 to 7/2 shots/corners. And our second half was significantly better than our first, as we chased an equalizer, and then the tying goal. There was a lot of good in our disappointing result.
The atmosphere at Spartan Stadium felt like playoff soccer. Both sides knew that they were playing a formidable opponent. Pre-game was as sharp as it's been all season. And the first-half was generally good. We opened with a very solid 20 minutes in which we were on the ascendancy...but slowly the Skyline team began regaining momentum (as good teams will), and the last phase of the first-half was decidedly in their favor. Especially the last 8 minutes, in which we conceded the deciding goals. The first came from an innocuous throw-in deep on our left side, our positioning and balance were just slightly off, and we deflected the long throw in the wrong direction and it fell directly to the Skyline striker who opportunistically poked it home from 5yds. It was a goal from nowhere, for although Skyline was pressing their advantage with more possession, they hadn't created all that many chances, and none that were particularly worrying. Then, as the shock of allowing a soft goal was just sinking in, we allowed another. This time Skyline's very talented and speedy #21 (a lefty playing on the right wing), picked up the ball on the right wing and ran laterally across the entire field. At first, we did a great job of running with her for most of the journey, even doing a smooth transition from defender to midfielder as she continued running sideways. Until we didn't. In the end, we lost our concentration for just a brief moment, dangled a leg, and let her split two Bellevue defenders on the far left sideline before she rifled a speculative shot from a very narrow-angle that somehow found its way into the back of the net. I take nothing away from the quality of the shot, it was glorious. But it was also an extremely low probability choice from that angle, especially when she had just run 60 yards sideways and we had her surrounded. But shooters shoot, good players change games, the margins get very thin against competitive opponents, and suddenly we found ourselves down 0-2 at halftime.
And this is where the character of a team really gets tested. Two goals down despite creating more and better chances, but down to a very good opponent who had talent at every position and would relish making a statement with a potential blow-out of the defending 3A champion. Would we fold, or rally? In the locker room at half, the team self-diagnosed our issues from the first half (more patience in possession, less sticky dribbling, better team balance, and a gut-check on winning more midfield duels). And then we began to play, and we chose "rally" over "fold." The next 40 minutes were emphatically ours. We got around their flanks consistently and had several fantastic opportunities to score. We finally stopped trying to dribble out of every situation and began to open up passing lanes while trusting our teammates. And then we got our reward for our determined rally. In the 58th minute, Maddy won the ball that had been looped into midfield by the Skyline backline and sent a pass to Alex who was central and about 40yds from goal. One touch to get around her defender and the ball was screaming into the lower right corner of the goal from over 30yds. Game on, And we still had 20 minutes left to find an equalizer. which seemed inevitable given how well we were playing....but....it just didn't happen. Yes, we had lots of chances in the final 20 minutes. Yes, we should've equalized several times. But we didn't. The Skyline defense was solid, and although we had several gilt-edged chances that seemed destined to score, we didn't. It happens. 1-2 final score. And the bitter taste of ashes and defeat.
But on the "moral victory" side of the ledger, we passed our halftime test, and played a magnificent second half that had everything but the three goals we were seeking. The next test is how we handle our first defeat. Our next game is at home against Hazen on Thursday at Bellevue Stadium. I'm hopeful that the feeling we experienced at the final whistle tonight is so distasteful that we come sharp and ready for Thursday with proper motivation, conviction, and confidence that our non-conference result against the defending 4A champs was an aberration and something that we collectively try to avoid for the rest of the season. And the next opportunity to put it right is Hazen. Thursday.
Lessons learned. Our story continues. Our ambitions remain unchanged.
Bellevue (JV) 0-1 Skyline
65th min Skyline goal from 5yds
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.” - John Wooden
I have said from day one when I started coaching at Bellevue High School that my teams will always strive to do the little things right. We would be consistent in our warmups, we would do free kicks, throw-ins, corner kicks the right way. A little trap here, the proper run here or the extra pass. As John Wooden eloquently stated, it is what can change a game. Unfortunately on Tuesday night, it was a little thing we didn’t do quite right that cost us in our game against Skyline.
The game was very evenly matched, as we expected. Skyline was bigger and faster than any team we have seen so far this year (granted only 4 games into the season). But we didn’t back down and we fought them throughout the evening. We created a bevy of chances on goal but we couldn’t quite make that final touch, shot or pass to get a goal to change the game.
The little things.
Things seemed just a little off for our girls on this day. The bus was 40 minutes late so our warmup was brief to say the least. Stack that on top of several injuries, absences and sicknesses and it was just a little too much for us to overcome. We missed a few marking assignments and lost our shape on too many occasions. We were lucky not to be down at halftime as Skyline squandered their fair share of opportunities as well.
But as the game began to wind down to what felt like an inevitable tie game, one of those ‘little things’ snuck up and bit us at an inopportune time. An ill-advised back pass and a missed clearance in a critical area resulted in an easy Skyline goal and we found ourself behind for the first time this season.
The little things.
A Skyline injury allowed us a moment to gather as a team on the sideline and regroup to try and get an equalizer. We shifted our formation, pushing more players up field, and it created the desired result: chances on goal. We created shots, free kicks and corner kicks as we peppered the Skyline goal. Despite a terrific effort in the closing moments, we couldn’t quite find a goal.
As Peter stated in his varsity recap, there are lessons to be learned as we continue on in league play. We’ll discuss how we can learn from this game and how we can improve moving forward. It’s a work in progress. I loved the effort throughout the game and how we overcame some difficult obstacles. As I told the girls, soccer is a funny game. Some nights things go your way and some nights they don’t. But games turn on the ‘little things’.
Losses happen but we don’t have to like it. Now we’ll see the character of this team and how well we bounce back on Thursday vs Hazen. See you there.
Bellevue 2-0 Juanita
45th min Kendall (Saleen)
67th min Amy (Mia)
One of my favorite comics as a kid was Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Waterson. It's not about the eponymous religious philosophers, but about a young boy, Calvin, and his imaginary best friend and stuffed tiger, Hobbes, and their many adventures. It's sweet, funny, clever, playful, and surprisingly deep sometimes. One of my favorite less-deep storylines was whenever Calvin and Hobbes started to play an organized sport, their playtime quickly devolved into "Calvinball," a free-flowing imagination game where the rules are constantly changing and fun is the only objective.
There were definitely a few times last night during our game against Juanita when I thought our players were more like a "badminton player disguised as a double-agent [soccer] player" or even "...a volleyball-croquet polo" player instead of the ruthlessly efficient goal-scorers we witnessed vs. Mt. View who scored 5 goals on their first 6 shots. Last night in our Kingco home-opener versus Juanita, we were slightly less focused in front of goal, but still dominant in possession and chances created: 30 shots attempted with a whopping 15 corners; versus 0 shots from Juanita and 2 corners. Um, Yeah. That statline really happened. So I'd like to tap into my inner child and imagine that we were simply playing Calvinball and thought our shots off the post counted double? Or perhaps shots over the goal and through the football uprights were like cricket-six-pointers, baseball ground-rule doubles, and football field goals...combined...in which case, our total score would've been overwhelmingly in our favor. Calvinball is whatever we want it to be as long as it's fun.
And it was fun. Despite a 0-0 halftime score, we played some wonderful soccer. And yes, in the real-world, watching shot after shot fail to score gets frustrating, but the smiles and laughter and eagerness to carry on were encouraging. We knew a goal was coming. We applied pressure on the Juanita goal from the first minute until the last and created plenty of goal-scoring chances. There will be some nights, like against Mt. View, when it seems like every shot goes in, and on other nights, those same shots hit the post, slide narrowly wide, or get saved by a keeper who puts in an inspired performance. That's sport. So I'm proud that our team found a way to win the game, because we earned a result from the quality of our overall play, and the 3 points we earned from our victory are the same whether our strike rate is 80% or 8%.
What I can guarantee is that if we don't allow a single shot on goal, we aren't going to lose many games. And we didn't. And we haven't. So well done to everyone for committing to our philosophy of team defense. We attack with 11, and defend with 11.
In the end, Kenny broke the deadlock in the 45th minute with a beautiful shot from 30 yards that found the upper left corner of the goal. Joyous relief. Then the game was sealed in the 67th minute when Mia cut-back a cross from the left wing that Amy finished bravely with a one-time shot while getting clattered by the goalkeeper. 2-0 Bellevue final score.
In the imaginary Calvinball universe, the score would've been 73 to % (or maybe W to 17), and everyone would've gone home afterward for some hot chocolate and a plate of cookies. But we'll gladly take our first Kingco win of 2023. We'll take it and are thankful for it.
Next week we play three games. Two non-conference games versus Skyline (away Tuesday) and Bainbridge (home Saturday), and a Kingco game versus Hazen (home Thursday). Skyline is the defending 4A state champions and also undefeated this season so it should be a very good test. And when you're the defending 3A champs, every time we step onto the field our opponents will be up for the challenge, so I expect Hazen and Bainbridge to give us their very best. No gimmies.
P.S. Incidentally, our win against Juanita marks our 100th varsity win since I joined the program before the 2016 season (and yes, coach John Hunter still has a better winning percentage than I do...). I'm proud of this program, and I'm proud of all of the teams, parent volunteers, and players, who have contributed to our century of Bellevue wins during that period. Yes, yes, I still strongly believe that soccer is the "most important, least important thing," and as such, there are lots of things that are way more important than high school soccer wins.
But it is nice.
100 is a cool number.
And I sincerely hope that we can add a few more during our 2023 campaign (17 more opportunities: 12 more regular season + 5 potential playoffs). We're off to a promising start.
Bellevue 7-0 Juanita
2nd min Anna (Kasia)
6th min Anna (Kasia)
9th min Calla (Anna)
26th min Sophia (unassisted)
49th min Tara (unassisted)
66th min Tara (Calla)
75th min Sophia (unassisted)
The Juanita Ravens JV girls’ soccer team visited Bellevue High School on Thursday night for our first home game of the season. And what a show it was.
The only words I told the girls before the game was ‘protect your home turf’.
Mission accomplished. Just looking at the statistics tells the whole story, so I won’t bore you with another long-winded recap 😉
Shots: 22 Bellevue/1 Juanita
Corner kicks: 9/1
Keeper saves: 2/10
Blocked shots (new stat): Bellevue 11
We had three players score TWO goals (Tara, Anna, Sophia) and two players with two assists (Kasia, Calla).
Needless to say, it was a dominating performance, and the game was virtually over in the first ten minutes as Kasia ran wild down the right flank and found Anna for two quick goals to start us off.
From there we moved the ball with precision and defended stoutly. Yes, of course there are take-aways we can work on but overall, it was a great effort.
I was able to move players around to try different positions while still maintaining our possession-based game and respecting our opponents. I think it was a good test as we prepare for 4A Skyline on Tuesday. The defending 4A champs always have a tough program so I am expecting a very tough match.
I’ve been working the girls pretty hard on their fitness and on top of a few injuries, I thought it was prudent to give the girls Friday off from training. I have been pleased with our first three games, but I think we’ll get a real feel for this team on Tuesday.
Bellevue 9-0 Mt. View
1st min Leah (unassisted)
5th min Mia (Alex)
7th min Saleen (Mia)
10th min Leah (unassisted)
16th min Lillian (EmilyD)
30th min Amy (Saleen)
32nd min Raina (Lexi T)
65th min Gaby (Nora)
78th min Emilie B (Nora)
“Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
― Ferris Bueller
That's how long it took for Bellevue to score the opening goal in the return contest against visiting Mt. View from Vancouver. 8 seconds. The fastest goal I can remember scoring while at coaching at Bellevue. And then life moved even faster for our opponents, as four more goals followed in rapid succession and before the game was 15 minutes old we were leading 5-0.
It was a devistating display of efficient and lightning quick scoring. We scored our first 5 goals on 6 shots. All of excellent quality.
The 8 second opener was scored directly from the kick-off. Gaby lobbed a ball deep into the Mt. View end and the center-back accidentially cradled the ball with her arm before it bounced free. Every Mt. View player stopped in shock waiting for the referee's whistle for an obvious hand ball...but not Leah. She raced onto the ball and hit it first-time into the net. 1-0 Bellevue and very good refereeing for allowing our advantage as we would always prefer a goal to a free kick outside of the box (9 of 10 referees blow the whistle immediately, so I was impressed that our center waited a beat to see if we would press our advantage...and equally impressed by Leah "playing to the whistle" and continuing her run despite the obvious handball)
After our opportunistic but well-taken first goal, the next four were all works of art as we overwhelmed the visitors. Alex raced down the right wing before sending a perfect cross for Mia to finish. Then Saleen took a simple square ball from Mia, danced around two defenders and blasted the ball past the helpless keeper from 20 yards. Two minutes later Leah pounced on another deflected shot and scored her second. And five minutes after that Emily Duke crossed into the box for Lillian to score with a one-time finish. 5-0 Bellevue. 15 minutes into the game.
This was not what I expected. Last year down in Vancouver, we won a competitive see-saw game 4-2 before climbing back aboard our bus for the long ride home. Later that season, Mt. View qualified for the State tournament and came within a few minutes of playing Bellevue in the round of 16 (a late Blanchet goal was the losing margin in a game that Mt. View deserved to win...and a few days later Blanchet gave us all we could handle in our own playoff game). But soccer can be unpredictable and unexpected, and life moves pretty fast if you get on the wrong side of momentum. Mt. View is a much better team than our scoreline would suggest, but the game was effectively over within the opening minutes and that is very difficult to overcome.
So at 5-0 up after 15 minutes we made changes. Lots of changes. All three of our goalkeepers played in the field. Forwards found themselves at center back. Center-backs found themselves on the wing. Leah played goalkeeper. Nobody played in their natural position for the remaining 65 minutes.
Coaching a game like this is tricky: We don't want to disrespect our opponents by not giving full effort, but we also don't want to disrespect our opponent by running up the score or behaving inappropriately (taunting, over-zealous celebrations, etc.). Instead we heavily rotated roles, encouraged possession, and tried to play with a bit of empathy for girls who spent an entire day on a bus and the game wasn't going how they expected it would. I was proud of our girls for maintaining a joyous attitude in supporting their teammates, while also conducting themselves with sportsmanship (offering a hand up to fallen opponents, etc.) in a very one-sided contest.
In the last 65 minutes, there were actually fewer goals scored than in the first 15. Much later in the half, Amy scored on a corner from Saleen, and Raina got a goal from an assist by goalkeeper-turned-winger Lexi T. 7-0 at halftime. Then center-back Gaby scored from left wing on a nifty wall pass with Nora, before goalkeeper-turned-midfielder Emilie finished confidently at the back post from an excellent corner by Nora. 9-0 final score.
8 different players scored a goal.
12 different players either scored or assisted a goal. Including both senior goalkeepers.
Nobody was trying to pad individual statistics, we just played smart and quick-passing soccer. And I hope that this spirit of generosity continues the entire season. Playing as an unselfish team is the only way that our total potential will be greater than the sum of our extremely talented parts.
Next week we continue our home stand with two Kingco League opponents: traditional title rivals Lake Washington on Tuesday, and the rapidly improving program from Juanita on Thursday. Although it is still early in our season, both games will set a tone for our Kingco title defense. I expect two very competitive games.
(but I've been wrong before).
Let's make sure we stop and look around a bit during this season. It's already very special and moving pretty fast.
Bellevue 5-0 Shorewood
9th min 1-0 Kasia (Alyson)
14th min 2-0 Anna (Morgan))
28th min 3-0 Morgan (Calla)
37th min 4-0 Tara (Calla, Mack)
75th min 5-0 Calla (Sophia)
Peter and I talk all the time about the soccer want our girls to play throughout the program. We try hard to get the teams to play a possession-based game where we play to our feet, move the ball quickly and spread the field. It opens up spaces for our teams to punish our opponents. And in just our second game of the year the JV girls showed they are beginning to learn the process.
Now let’s be clear, it was not for the whole game. The first half of the game was a little sloppy and a bit frantic. However, we managed to put in four goals and in soccer, isn’t that the point? Yes and no.
We scored some nice goals against an overmatched opponent which is what we should be doing. But I’m trying to prepare this team for tougher opponents. I was pleased with our first half goals but a little underwhelmed on our overall play. Our first touches were still a little off and we struggled to put more than two passes together.
Our first goal was a bit fortunate. Kasia lashed a nice shot on goal that the Shorewood keeper mishandled resulting in a goal. It was a great shot from outside and when you put shots on frame, good things can happen. The second goal was just as fortunate. Another great shot from Morgan forced the keeper to push the ball out of the goal right to Anna who popped it in the back of the net.
The third goal was similar as well. After some nice combination work, Morgan took a pass from Calla and put home a nice goal just inside the penalty area. The final goal of the first half had several players involved. Calla fed a pass to Mackenzie who ripped a shot the keeper had difficulty handling and Tara was in the right place to put home another goal and send us into halftime.
At the break we felt we had the game in hand, so we discussed how we wanted to play to see this game out. Goals weren’t important but we wanted to up our game and really focus on possessing the ball and moving it around the field quickly. The girls all agreed on our game plan, and I have to say they executed it perfectly.
The second half was full of possession, and we basically played keep-away from Shorewood. That is how we want to play when games get tough. Possess, possess, possess and pounce when the opportunity arises.
We always respect our opponents no matter the level of play and we never want to embarrass anyone as we’ve all been on the wrong side of those types of game. With shots only coming from outside the box, no breakaways and only header goals in the box, we still managed tack on one more goal toward the end of the game.
Sophia made a great run deep into the corner and managed to send a great cross in Calla’s direction. Now, did Calla get a head on that ball or did it come off her shoulder? Either way, she redirected it into the net to finish the scoring on the night.
Overall, it was a great effort, some promising soccer and a fun night all around. Great win and we got the shutout as well. Once again, everyone on the roster contributed and that is how it has to work if we want to accomplish our season-long goals.
A little break from games as we don’t play again until Tuesday when we welcome one of our rivals, Lake Washington, to Bellevue Stadium. Hope to see you there.
Bellevue 2-1 Shorewood
48th min 0-1 Shorewood #7 goal
63rd min 1-1 Mia (Saleen, Leah)
67th min 2-1 Saleen (Mia, Lily)
"You can’t train at the zoo, then go to a jungle”. —Mikel Arteta, current Arsenal manager on the experience of playing at Anfield, Liverpool's home stadium.
Early-season games always contain a bit of mystery for both teams. Although we plan and prepare for several weeks and conduct Varsity-JV scrimmages to get ready, it's impossible to simulate the experience of being in the "jungle" of a competitive cauldron of actual gametime. Visiting a tiger at the zoo isn't the same as experiencing a tiger in the jungle, or more apt for our game against Shorewood, visiting the aquarium isn't the same as swimming with a Stormray (?) in open ocean. And so we stepped on the field at Shoreline Stadium against our Quarter-final opponent from our playoff run last fall, with stakes a bit lower (nobody's season would be over based upon the result), but with the intensity of two teams who have ambitions to play long into November this season. This is why we have a challenging non-league schedule, to test ourselves early and often so that we get comfortable living in the jungle.
And the lessons learned were valuable. First the positives: we won a tight game after going behind. That builds character, confidence, and resolve. Our team defense, shape, and commitment was very solid. Wingers and our strikers chased back, midfielders kept a good balance and competed in the tackle, and our backline provided cover for each other with good angles and positioning. But there were plenty of other, harder lessons learned: both teams were very frenetic in possession, especially in the first half. Mostly due to the increased speed of a quality opponent, but also due to bobbled first-touches, passes with inappropriate weight, or supporting runs going forward that didn't have much variation (always straight lines running behind...). Most of those issues will resolve with time as our team better understands each other and our respective roles. A good first touch is the technical base upon which everything else is built in a good passing team. And we can all strive to improve that part of our game. Lastly, it was the first day of school, and an important lesson to learn is how to balance our academic and social lives with our team. In high school soccer, we are scholar-athletes, there is a lot to manage that can take a mental toll. And finding ways to not get depleted mentally by gametime is a skill like any other.
We were in control for most of the first half. Although we didn't create a flood of chances, we did create 5-6 good opportunities while yielding only a few corners to Shorewood with no shots on our goal. But overall the game was choppy with very little rhythm and we entered halftime scoreless. The second half began with Shorewood on the front foot and we had to defend several well-taken corners and free kicks. Momentum had definitely shifted to the Stormrays. The opening goal was unfortunate, and an atypically heavy first-touch from rotating the ball across our backline turned into a turm-over and one-touch pass to the Shorewood striker who finished with a simple shot to the far post from 8 yards. We were behind in the 48th minute. 0-1 Shorewood.
I'd like to write that conceding a goal was the catalyst to our team finding a better and more confident rythym (there was still almost an entire half left to be played, plenty of time...), but instead the next 5-10 minutes were even more chaotic as we tried to panic rush our way to an equalizer. Eventually, we collectively calmed down a bit and began to possess the ball as the spaces increased later in the game, but in the future, we need to understand that 30 minutes is plenty of time to overturn almost any deficit. There was no need to rush it. We play quickly, but never in a hurry.
One of the many lessons from last night is that while we value balance and positioning in organized defending, in attack we need more movement and free-flowing creativity. And our equalizer was a perfect example: Saleen had chased a Shorewood midfielder in possession and forced a turn-over that Amber collected at left fullback deep in our end. Amber played a simple ball to Leah at left wing at midfield (which is a pattern that happens several times a game), but what made this different is that Saleen transitioned immediatly from chasing her opposing midfielder to executing an overlap of Leah on the left wing...well before Leah even got the ball...and by making a positive run in anticipation of Leah getting the ball, Saleen was at full sprint as Leah turned and sent a perfect ball into the space behind. On the other side of the field, Mia was at full sprint as Leah was unlocking Saleen on the left, and when Saleen crossed to the back post, Mia darted in front of her defender and finished from two yards. It was a stunning goal of movement, timing, anticipatory running, and excellent crossing and finishing. 1-1 in the 63rd minute.
And that was the catalyst. From that moment on we were in control and it took less than five minutes to add another. Lily picked out an open Mia on the right wing with a 40 yard ball played in the air but with perfect weight so that Mia could take a simple one touch trap into space where...wait for it..Saleen had already made an anticipatory run in support of Mia. Simple pass to Saleen's feet, a stutter-step-change-of-pace move to the inside and from 30 years our freshman hit the target with a left-footed howitzer to the upper left corner. Cue joyous celebration, hugs and the happy jog back to the center-circle with a 2-1 advantage.
And that was that. Other than a mystery free kick deep in our territory, and two Shorewood players simultaneously going down with leg cramps, we did a very very good tactical job of seeing off the final five minutes with 6-7 smart and well taken throw-ins down the line, and great decisions by players to get into the corner and keep possession. Seeing off a tight game with less than five minutes is test of a team's collective tactical intelligence and our girls passed with the highest marks.
I'm proud of our team. Getting tested in a tight and competitive game is a great early-season lesson for us all.
As LA-poet-rocker Axl Rose screeched, "Welcome to the Jungle."
The jungle isn't as scary once you been there a few times.
Now we face another test against Mt. View from Vancouver, WA. Mt. View won the St. Helens League last season so we can expect another competitive game. Reminder that we have an atypical 5:30pm kick-off so our opponents can get back home at a reasonable time afterwards. I'm looking forward to our home-opener.
Rest, hydrate and eat well. See you on Thursday.
Bellevue 2-0 Stadium
'12 Lillian (Alex)
'25 Amy (Alex, Raina)
"In soccer, as in life, it's not about individual talent or accolades. It's about working together as a team and putting the team's goals ahead of your own." --Arsene Wagner, ex-Arsenal Manager
"We may not have it all together, but together we can have it all" --"All Together" by Wookiefoot
One of the greatest football managers in the modern game, genteel Frenchman Arsene Wagner of Arsenal fame, and Wisconsin performance-artists-hippie-jam-band collective Wookiefoot, both uphold a core value of our program: it's the collective spirit of the team that matters most. We are blessed to have an amazing collection of individual talent in our team this season. And talented individuals can certainly win a game or two by themselves, but to achieve our goals this season, it will take everyone. All together.
Our opening game of the 2023 season was an excellent example of the collective spirit we hope to foster. It was a breathtakingly beautiful day in the Stadium Bowl, but the temperatures on the turf were easily 10-15 degrees hotter than the 80-degrees measured at kick-off. So we rotated the team consistently throughout the game, got an extra drinks-break midway through each half, and every single Wolverine who stepped on the field to make their 2023 debut made a positive contribution in our 2-0 victory. We needed everyone to contribute, and everyone did.
We opened the scoring in the 12th minute, as Gaby charged into midfield from her center-back position and delivered a perfect entry pass to Lillian's feet just past the center-circle. Lillian turned her defender with a good first touch, and found Alex racing down the right wing with her second. Alex cut inside her defender and lashed a teasing cross that the Stadium keeper could only deflect in front of her goal...to where Lillian was waiting to smash home from 7 yards. Lillian's gut-busting 40-yard supporting run after her entry pass was rewarded with her goal, her 4th goal against Stadium in the last three seasons. Exactly where we want our strikers to be. 1-0 Bellevue.
Twelve minutes later it was 2-0. This time three substitutes contributed to a silky team goal as Saleen released Raina on the left wing with a perfect cross-field pass. Raina dribbled straight at her defender and got to the endline with a beautiful change of pace before cutting the ball back into the box where Alex made a strong run from the right wing, getting a touch to Amy who fired home. Exactly where we want our strikers to be. 2-0 Bellevue.
The balance of the half, and the entire game, we heavily tilted in our favor. But more goals never arrived, as the Stadium keeper had an excellent day with a game-high 15 saves (which is amazing...a handful of saves in a typical game is a busy day for most goalkeepers). Stadium is a very good team that I expect to challenge for a title in the Pierce County League, but on the day, our speed, patient possession, and tenacity won the day. However, we got a not-so-subtle reminder in the 71st minute that possession statistics are meaningless without goals. Stadium was awarded a PK against the run of play with a chance to narrow our lead to a single goal with ten minutes left in the game. To our collective relief, the subsequent shot sailed over the bar and we closed out the game. But if not for the PK miss, the last 10 minutes of the game would've been very very different. Finishing our abundance of chances will be something we continually work on. Final stats: Shots/Corners 20/6 Bellevue, 3/0 Stadium.
Congratulations to our goalkeeping sorority (and the players in front of them working hard) for shutouts in both our JV and Varsity games. Tough to ever lose a game when you don't allow the other team to score.
Thank you to the families and supporters who made the journey to Stadium Bowl. On Tuesday we have a rematch from last season's State quarterfinal against an excellent Shorewood team at Shoreline Stadium. It will be another great test as we begin to forge our identity as a team.
We might not have it all together, but together we can have it all.
JV Recap: 1-0 Bellevue vs Stadium
33’ Anna (Morgan)
It was a bright and sunny day on Saturday for our first Junior Varsity match of the season in Tacoma. After watching Stadium’s freshman team handle our JVC team in the early match, we knew it was going to be a hard-fought match.
The game started with a few jitters and nervous touches. It took us some time to settle into the game and get ahold of the ball. We struggled to link passes together and get any real possession for the first 20 minutes or so.
As the temperature began to rise, so did the intensity of the game. We slowly began to find teammates in dangerous positions, but we just couldn’t quite make that final pass or shot on goal.
Things changed in the 33rd minute as Morgan found herself at the top of the penalty box for a shot through a crowd that bounced like ping pong through several players. Anna Cody pounced on the loose ball and hammered home our first goal of the season.
We melted into halftime nursing our one-goal advantage. It was a break everyone needed. The hot day required lots of substitutions to keep the girls fresh and give the players a chance to hydrate. Everyone contributed a little something in the game.
We talked at halftime about getting more possession, winning those 50/50 balls, and picking up our intensity and effort.
Unfortunately, the hot weather and steamy turf continued to plague both teams throughout the second half. The play got a little sloppy as the girls tired. We did manage a few dangerous chances, but we never really tested the Stadium goalkeeper.
We survived a close call with about 15 minutes to go as Stadium played a nifty short corner kick that resulted in a blistering shot from the top corner of the penalty box. The ball skidded just wide, and we all breathed a sigh of relief.
From there we slowly saw the game out and held on to a nice 1-0 victory. We outshot Stadium 11-5 and only gave up that one corner kick. So, it was a hard-fought victory against a good team.
I believe we were the better team on this day but there is still work to do. We looked a little tired at times and struggled with our first touches. All things we can work on in training in the upcoming days.
Next game is Tuesday for another nonconference tilt against Shorewood. Should be a great game. See you on the pitch.
Bellevue 1-0 Roosevelt
27th min 1-0 Lily (unassisted). direct from corner
No more magic numbers. No more shootouts. And a very big trophy.
There is still only one member of Club Perfect in the entire state of Washington. At any classification. 20 wins. No ties. No losses. Our girls are the 2022 3A State Champions.
Like last weekend's quarterfinal, the game itself suffered from being scheduled a mere 24 hours after intense semi-finals for both teams. So there were weary legs on both sides. Which is why my first reflection on our win is that it was a TEAM win. We used almost the entire roster in the final, and every player who stepped on the field gave it their all for their teammates. Of course, the cornerstone of our victory was our dedication to team defense. We ask all 11 players to contribute to defending, and yesterday we needed them all. From our rock-steady backline, to our tenacious midfielders, and our counter-pressing forwards and wingers who had to chase overlapping fullbacks all night. And our goalkeeper was outstanding. Just outstanding. But outstanding in a championship final doesn't just happen. On Monday of this week we gave the girls the day off to recover from our "shootout" weekend. But two players organized their own training session on our day off: our goalkeeper sorority, Amirah and Sabrina (and coach Imad). Championships and perfect seasons are built on thin margins: last-minute come-from-behind goals against LW in the regular season, three narrow 4-3 shootout victories, excellent corner kicks that rebound off the post and into the goal, and the dedication of two players doing extra work when they weren't required to do so for the benefit of their team. So in a state championship that required the contribution of every player on our roster, I want to give special recognition to Amirah and Sabrina. Thank you.
The first half ebbed and flowed with most of the play in midfield. Both teams showed flashes of skillful possession soccer, but strong defenses prevented most combinations from becoming dangerous chances. Then in the 27th minute. Lexi took a throw-in deep in the Roosevelt half on our right wing. Hinana, Kendall, and Leah pressed as a pack, forcing a turn-over. Leah picked up the loose ball. cut back inside. and launched a rocket shot that seemed destined for the upper corner but the Roosevelt keeper made a reflex save to push the ball over the top for a corner. Lily took the corner and smashed a perfect in-swinger that hit the far post and rebounded off of a defender and into the goal. 1-0 Bellevue. Thin margins.
In the second half, defending a lead, it was natural that we would sit a bit deeper and absorb Roosevelt pressure, playing for counter-attacks. And that's what we did. This season, our team allowed 7 goals over 20 games, recording 14 shutouts. One goal was all we needed. And yes, Roosevelt created more chances than we did as we closed out the game, they are an excellent team with very very good players. Of course they would press hard for an equalizer late in the last possible game of the season. But again, our team defense was excellent. Committed. Relentless. Final whistle and our we earned the lifetime title of 2022 3A State Champion.
I'm beyond happy for this team but especially happy for our 8 seniors. It's a rare thing to play your entire senior season without a blemish. So thank you to Cami Johnson, Emily Wang, Josie Moss, Arin Oh, Emma Cody, Sabrina Leguizamon, and captains Amirah Haque and Hinana Takashima. You have left an indelible mark on our program. Thank you.
And thank you to all of the supporters who braved the cold yesterday at Sparks. Our team victory doesn't just include a full roster of selfless teenagers, it is a dedicated staff of coaches, administrators, booster club volunteers, and parents. Thank you for laundered parkas, snack packs, team dinners, last-minute trips to school to bring your daughter her forgotten shinguards and soccer shoes, Jimmy Johns on the bus, banners hung before home games, scout game videos, website updates, parent team managers, and student-team managers who shout encouragement for the entire 80 minutes at every game. Thank you. I love this program. Because it is a program of many.
See you at the banquet tomorrow night.
Bellevue 1-0 Shorecrest
25th min Mia (Cami)
To paraphrase the Broadway version of Alexander Hamilton, we're not throwing away our shot. We're young, scrappy, and hungry...and we're not throwing away our shot. Later today we will line up at the centerline of Sparks Stadium for the 3A State Championship final against a very talented Roosevelt team. Today we will rely on the countless memories of breathtakingly beautiful soccer we have produced all season. Moments of class, speed, poise, and collective toughness. i'm confident that our best soccer is still in front of us. We are not throwing away our shot. The magic number is one.
We spent all week preparing for Shorecrest, poring over film and looking for tactical advantages and mismatches. But in the end, the difference wasn't tactical adjustments, it was simply solid defense, gritty effort, and a moment of pure individual magic. In the 25th minute, Cami caught the Shorecrest right fullback trying to dribble her way out of midfield and got a toe to the ball to poke it away. Mia picked up the loose ball and charged directly at the center of the Shorecrest backline, which still had three defenders in a good position. But Cami didn't stop, she sprinted down the left wing in support of Mia, giving her an option in attack. And that supporting run was enough to spread the Shoreline defenders wider than they would've liked, and Mia sprinted through the gap, outracing the chasers and calmly slotting the ball back to the lower right side of the goal. So sweet. 1-0 Bellevue.
And that was that. Our team defense was exceptional. We covered for each other. We channeled Shorecrest attackers into less dangerous areas of the field. And our goalkeeper exuded calm confidence throughout and dealt with the few speculative shots that were launched at our goal. And most importantly, we began to play flowing Bellevue soccer for extended periods of the second half. Playoff soccer can get very choppy and frenetic, and it is a challenge to maintain some calm and pass out of congested areas of the field. And although we didn't score another goal from our extended phases of possession, it is a very good signal that we are getting better at dealing with playoff intensity.
At the final whistle we took a moment to celebrate, and then almost immediately began to plan, focus, and prepare for Roosevelt. Extended State tournament runs are precious. A team needs to stay healthy, play well, and avoid unlucky referee decisions or other variables that are impossible to control. So it's a credit to our girls for earning a spot in today's final. They have persevered and earned every win with collective effort and contributions from the entire roster. We're not going to throw away our shot.
Magic number is one.
See you at Sparks.
#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.
Bellevue 1-1 (4-3) Blanchet
Oh what a night. After another breathless round of shootout penalty kicks, our team moves on to the state tournament quarterfinals. The turn-around is less than 24 hours, so I'll attempt to be brief (ha ha), as our focus is on the future, not the past.
But our recent past has certainly been dramatic and deserves some reflection. Despite an unflattering overall record that earned them a #17 seed, Blanchet is a very very good team. Earlier in the season, they beat the previously undefeated and defending state champs Lakeside. So we knew that the seeding mismatch was a bracket illusion. Also, Blanchet is a type of team that we don't face in Kingco regularly. They are big, strong, and athletic at every position and muscle through every tackle with a relish for the physical side of our game. They are relentless in the tackle. We matched their physicality with quickness, speed, and good organization. We were rewarded in the 21st minute, as EmilyW slipped a clever ball into Mia's feet at the top of the Blanchet box, Mia scampered around the Bears keeper and rolled the ball into an open net. 1-0 Bellevue. From that point on, the game ebbed and flowed with chances at both ends. Both goalkeepers were excellent. But then in the 55th minute, Blanchet scored a goal that no goalkeeper is stopping. We routinely cleared an innocent-looking lobbed ball sent into our box, but their holding midfielder raced onto the bouncing ball and unleashed a rocket on the half-volley from 30 yards that had no arc to it as it hit the upper right corner of the net. Nothing to do but applaud a truly magnificent goal. And it was 1-1 and Blanchet surged with belief and confidence.
From there, we had several chances to win. But Blanchet had several chances to win too. In the end, at the final whistle, we were into our second consecutive shootout to determine which team would advance, and which team would have their season end abruptly. Just like 10 days ago against LW, I'm proud of all five of our shooters and keepers. Well done Gaby, Leah, Emily, MIa, Lexi and Amirah. Tournament play hinges on little margins. Good preparation. Mental toughness. Belief. And sometimes the margins are as thin as the inside of a post, an excellent save on the 5th shooter, followed by another smooth finish from Lexi. Celebration.
And now we face a very good Shorewood team. A team that had to play overtime in their victory over Ridgeline which featured its own mix of amazingly dramatic moments. Shorewood scored on a free kick in the 79th minute to force overtime, then won with a golden goal free kick on the last kick of the overtime second period. The Stingrays (???) will be riding high coming into our game. And have just as many stressful minutes in their legs as our girls.
So here we go. See you at Bellevue Stadium. The magic number is three.
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.
Bellevue 4-0 Mercer Island
7th min Cami (Mia & Leah)
22nd min Mia (Lillian)
30th min Hinana (Lexi & Lillian)
32nd min Lillian (Emily)
Well, the air quality issues are gone. In a game that was essentially played inside of a washing machine, our girls had a magnificent evening playing our rival Islanders in a wet, soggy and wind-swept game. Perhaps because it was MI's senior night, but the chippiness of our first encounter was absent this time around. The MI team was very thoughtful and honored our seniors during introductions with flowers; giving, and receiving, thoughtful gifts from an opponent sets a very different tone. Not that the game wasn't physical or competitive, but it was less frantic and edgy. I oftentimes tell my teams that I value an honor code in soccer: always play to your best ability with full effort into every pass, shot and tackle, and if you accidentally knock an opponent down (it happens), give them a hand and pick them up, then carry on with no less intensity than before. It's fierce effort balanced with mutual respect. And there were several hard tackles from both teams last night, but never did I feel like any were done with malice or bad intent, and both teams showed sportsmanship by helping the opponent on the ground get back up again. So full credit to players from both teams (and the refereeing crew) for keeping the game below a boiling point.
Of course, some of the sting was taken out of the game by a wonderful early goal from our girls. In the 7th minute, Leah cut back from the right wing, onto her left foot, and sent a dangerous cross into the box. Mia got a glancing header on the ball that fell to Cami. Cami sent a beautifully controlled first-touch half-volley into the far corner of the net. Celebration time. 1-0 Bellevue. What I loved about Cami's goal was her compsure to not overhit her chance, so often in these situations adreninlin quickens our tempo and we lash something well over the bar, but instead, Cami hit a smooth shot with poise and accuracy. Well done Cami.
The remaining goals all arrived in a bunch, clustered in a ten minute period of excellent play between the 22nd and 32nd minutes. In the 22nd minute, we scored an excellent team goal, rotating the ball deep through our center-backs, and across our midfieid before Lillian picked it up wide on our left side. Lill beat her defender to the inside and bazookaed a shot that the MI keeper could only parry to the underside of the crossbar bouncing out and away from the goal...where Mia was first to react and head into the net. 2-0 Bellevue. Then in the 30th minute, we scored a goal that echoed our first, this time Lily sent a perfecct free kick down our left side into space behind the MI defense for Lillian to spin and send a cross to Lexi who trapped the ball into the path of an onrushing Hinana to half-volley into the net. Beautiful. 3-0 Bellevue. Finally, two minutes later, Emily intercepted the ball at midfield and found Lillian admist a pack of Islander defenders, Lillian ducked, weaved, dodged, and cut-back before firing a low shot past the outstretched goalkeeper from 25 yards. 4-0 Bellevue, both half-time score and full-time score.
A huge thank you to the parent volunteers on duty for parkas, blankets and shelters. On night's like these, little margins gained by being slightly warmer and drier on the sidelines can make a difference. Thank you.
From one senior night we move to another. On Thursday, we honor our class of '23 in a pre-game ceremony before taking on a very good Liberty team. Liberty has only two losses on their season, one from our first meeting back in September. Plus, they will likely need a win to potentially move into the Kingco championship game against us next Tuesday. They will arrive focused and needing a victory. However, with a win we will secure a perfect Kingco season, which is a rarity in our ultra-competitive league. Regardless of result, it will be a night of memories made. See you there.
Varsity: Bellevue 5-0 Hazen
2nd min Lillian (Leah)
7th min Lily (Maddy) corner kick header
30th min (Cami) Hinana
53rd min Lillian (Leah)
60th min Lillian (Lexi)
JV: Bellevue 5-0 Hazen
5th min Morgan (assist?)
7th min Kaitlyn (Raina). corner kick header
10th min Morgan (Arianna)
38th min Camille (Raina)
49th min Kaitlyn (Amy) corner kick header
I'm consolidating recaps this week because I got the privilege of coaching both teams on Saturday as coach John was "under the weather." Just like our players do each game, the coaching staff always covers for each other. Unlike my fake Hazen recap earlier in the week, we actually played soccer. It was a rare Saturday league kick-off, for a game that had to be rescheduled due to the air quality issues. The weather was perfect, if by perfect you consider late October rain with chilly temperatures, perfect. There were a few more oddities in our game against Hazen, including Bellevue wearing our "away white" uniforms in our home stadium. Why? Well, with the entire western side of our state trying to reschedule high school soccer games due to smoke, the Renton School District simply couldn't find a field, or referees, to host the game at Hazen. And so offered our stadium as a back-up plan that because the primary plan. So on Saturday, we were technically the "away" team., and therefore wore our "whites".
Both games were eirily similar: quick starts, header goals, then center-backs at striker in the second half, and identical 5-0 scorelines.
In the JV game, Morgan got a brace, Kaitlyn got 2 header goals, and Camille scored a break-away goal just before halftime. Raina had 2 assists with Arianna and Amy also setting up teammates for goals (I missed the assist for Morgan's opening goal?).
On the varsity side, Lillian bagged a hatrick (all to the same left side netting), Lily scored a header and Cami banged in a ferocious goal into the upper right corner from her left wing position. 2 assists for Leah as well as assists from Maddy, Lexi and Hinana. And a marvelous save from Sabrina to keep our shutout, from a shot that looked destined to find the upper corner.
As well as both teams played on Saturday, my pride in our program peaked on Sunday as we held our annual free BUFC clinic at Bellevue Stadium. Over 45 girls ages 5-10 showed up with their shiny purple soccer balls, oversized shin guards, BUFC uniforms and beaming smiles. Our girls were the coaches, and did a wonderful job teaching a few skills, playing a few games, and inspiring countless hugs, high-fives and giggles. Huge thank you to Chris Colby at BUFC, our Booster Club volunteers and coaching staff for helping organize such a special event. I am so proud of our girls for giving back to their community with the gift of their time and energy for the next generation of Bellevue girls soccer.
This week we conclue the 2022 regular season with games at Mercer Island on Tuesday (5:30 & 7:30) and at home versus Liberty for our senior night celebration (5:30 & 8pm). Note the later start for varsity on Thursday as we make room for the ceremony to honor our class of '23.
A very compelling set of games to finish our season. See you there.
The recap is this: I've never reloaded "purpleair.com" so many times in life. Nor did I know that the website existed before what has become our annual forest fire season began a few years ago. So as I write this faux recap on late Thursday afternoon, we still have no visibility on when our postponed games will be rescheduled. Since our game on Thursday versus Hazen was an away game, the responsibility for rescheduling is with the Renton School District Athletic Director. Yes, we've reached out. Repeatedly. And now we wait. Watch team snap for the latest.
We do have some silver linings in this brown smokey thundercloud of a week:
1) We were able to play Interlake last Thursday. Getting that game completed on the first day of dodgy air quality, even if only 50 minutes of it, lessens our game congestion impact over the next week.
2) Our Kingco BYE date was today. That is lucky. All other Kingco games are canceled for today due to AQI, and those games will need to be rescheduled along with all of the games from Tuesday. So we don't have to reschedule as many games as the other teams in our conference. Almost every other team in Kingco will have back-to-back games at some point next week, but our BYE today is sparing us that fate.
3) We have already clinched the #1 seed in Kingco playoffs. Again, the rest of the league is competing for seeds #2-#5 to determine if and when they play, and nobody wants to be a #4 or #5 seed because they will need to play next Saturday, Oct 29th for their season survival. Next week is going to be wild. And we can be certain that our first Kingco playoff game will be on Tuesday, Nov 1st on our home turf. No matter what happens next week.
So here's where I wipe the ash off of the crystal ball and try to predict what will happen: it seems likely that we'll need to play this weekend against Hazen. Probably Saturday. When planning anything, "likely" and "probably" aren't great, but it's all we've got. Apologies and thank you in advance if we have less than 24 hours notice on time, date and location for our Hazen game.
Regardless, our BUFC clinic on Sunday, Oct 23rd (2:30-6pm for JV / varsity players) and our regularly scheduled games at Mercer Island on Tuesday, Oct 25th and Senior Night vs. Liberty at Bellevue Stadium on Thursday, Oct 27th are safe from smoke cancelations. It's supposed to rain every day for the next week and beyond Very nice of October to show up just before it's November.
Good luck to our JV & JVC teams as they finish up their seasons next week. Please save the evening of Monday, Nov 21st for our soccer banquet.
Bring on the rain. FTJ
BHS 3-0 Interlake (50 minutes due to AQI)
4th min Mia (Lexi)
13th min Hinana (Lexi)
25th min Raina (Lexi)
There's a first time for everything. For some on Thursday, it was the first time getting playing time on the varsity team...or the first time scoring a varsity goal..or dishing three assists in a single game...or having the final whistle blow in the 50th minute, not the 80th, due to forest fire smoke making the conditions unsafe for play. Yes, it was a wonderfully strange night at Interlake, full of firsts. But even more satisfyingly, we played beautiful, consistent, crisp soccer in a 50-minute 3-0 win.. And with our victory against the Saints, our Bellevue Wolverines clinched the Kingco regular season title and earned the #1 seed in our league playoffs. This is the earliest a Bellevue team has clinched the regular-season title: another first. So regardless of how our final three games go, we will host the #2 seed (TBD) at Bellevue Stadium on Tuesday, November 1st for the Kingco tournament championship, and an automatic bid to State. Of course, we still have away tests at Hazen and Mercer Island before our senior night against Liberty still to come, but it's nice to enter those games with the confidence that our girls have already earned one title (regular season champs), and secured our chance to compete for another in just under three weeks time (tournament title game). Well done.
Ahead of the game against Interlake, we knew that we were in for a competitive mismatch. In the ebb and flow of public high school soccer, it's been a challenging shallow ebb for our neighboring Saints this year, while we have been flowing fast and high. So we took the opportunity to invite several members of our JV to join the varsity and rotated the lineup to experiment with new player combos and positions. My message to our team before kick-off was simple: always respect your opponents by playing your honest best. And the players responded by crafting one of our best team goals of the season. In the 4th minute, Cami won the ball from an Interlake throw-in at midfield and kept possession by dropping the ball back to Maddy, sixteen simple, confident, and quick passes later and Mia smashed the ball into the upper corner of the net after Lexi provided a magnificent cross from an overlapping run down our right wing. It was a goal of patience and control. We rotated the ball across our backline twice, all passes requiring only one or two touches, looking for a good upfield channel to advance the ball. Eventually, Hinana threaded the ball into Leah's feet on the right. Leah made a perfect one-touch pass to an overlapping Lexi, and Lexi's pass to Mia was equally perfect, freeing our striker to finish smartly over the keeper. So so so good. Ten minutes later and the score had doubled. Lexi again earned the assist, but this perhaps was an assist of more modest origins than our 16-pass masterpiece. Lexi threw the ball to Hinana. That's it. A simple backwards throw-in to feet, and Taki did the rest, weaving past six Interlake defenders with dribbling poise as smooth as silk before depositing the ball into the back of the net. Exquisite individual effort. When you show a team that you can string together 16 passes, suddenly dribbling lanes become wider and more unexpected. And Hinana took advantage. 2-0 Bellevue. And finally, in the 25th minute, we scored another great team goal, as our three freshmen (and Lexi) combined to create a goal of stunning beauty. Kendall won the ball from an Interlake punt and passed to Lexi at right back. Lexi advanced the ball to Nora at striker and her one-touch pass wide found Kalea who spun her defender before slipping a delicate pass up the right channel to an overlapping Lexi (she never stopped her run after her initial pass). The combination looked exactly like the patterned finishing we work so hard on at training. Quick decisive passes and near-constant movement off the ball. Lexi got to the endline before crossing into a dangerous area in front of goal where Raina made a clever checking run and was rewarded by firing home from a yard out to score her first varsity goal from Lexi's third assist of the game. 3-0 Bellevue. And that's how we entered halftime.
Now about that strange 50 minute gametime. Some of you may have noticed that our opening kick-off was ten minutes early against Interlake. This was because the AQI was hovering just below concerning levels pre-game, and we feared that if it increased too rapidly we might be forced to abandon the game and reschedule. Neither coach wanted to do that but we both understood that the AQI data would take precedent. So we hurried. We kicked off while the AQI was at acceptable levels and tried to maximize our odds that we could play enough minutes to get the game in the books. Once we got to halftime, we had satisfied the WIAA standards to consider the result official (with the mutual agreement of both coaches and match referee). But after only 10 minutes into the second half, the referee was forced to blow the final whistle 30 minutes early. The AQI had increased since kick-off, and we had reached the district limit at which conditions are considered unsafe for play. Of course, we would've preferred to play a full game. Soccer is fun and that's why we play. But we want the girls to be safe, and the air was a chewy brown by the time the referee had to intercede.
Next up is an away trip to Hazen next Tuesday. Although we are happy to have a regular season title secured, I know that our girls want to finish our regular season with three more polished performances. Undefeated and untied league championships are special and rare, so we'll bring our best effort knowing that this team seems to enjoy being a team of firsts.
ps. Kudos to all of the JV players who contributed versus Interlake. I thought each of them played well. We are extremely blessed as a program to have extraordinary depth of talent this year. I know with confidence that there are another 6-7 JV players who we didn't call up last night who would've been great too. The margins are thin. The decisions are mine. I have had the privilege of watching every JV game this year, and the overall level of play has been excellent. Of course, I am extemely thankful for coach John for preparing his players to move up the team hierarchy (have I mentioned that coach John has only sufferred one (!!!) Kingco defeat in FIVE seasons of coaching at Bellevue...one!?! It boggles. even Pep, Belichick and Kerr lost a few games every year during the height of their dynasties...but not Coach John).
BHS 3-1 Juanita
33rd min Mia (Lexi)
34th min Juanita corner kick header
53rd min Mia (Cami)
58th min Cami (Mia)
We have so much to be thankful for, big and small. We get to play a game we love with our friends, representing our school and our city. Last night versus Juanita, we were treated to another unseasonably wonderful October sunset as our girls entered the away press box for our pre-game routine. It was a beautiful moment. Our team walked shoulder-to-shoulder wearing their Bellevue blue and bright pink socks. The bright pink a small reminder that oftentimes life doesn't always deal you sunsets and stadiums, so we should enjoy them when we get them. The girls emerged smiling and laughing but with a look of determination that showed me they were ready for Juanita. Since our victory against the Ravens in early September, Juanita had gone undefeated in Kingco including a commanding 4-1 demolition of their biggest rivals Lake Washington. They have our total respect. Their team had climbed up to #2 in the Kingco standings and it is clear that Juanita is an ambitious group determined to qualify for their first state tournament.
The game couldn't have started any better for Bellevue as we spent the entirety of the first 10 minutes deep in the Juanita half, hitting posts and crossbars, forcing the Ravens' keeper into saves, and recording 4 corners in a barrage of attacking intent. But the very organized Juanita defense weathered our early storm, and they began to probe our own defense with counter-attacks, giving their backline some relief. But we finally broke through in the 33rd minute, as Lily made an excellent choice on a free kick to hit a simple ball to Lexi's feet on the right wing rather than hit a high hopeful ball into the heart of the Juanita defense (the Juanita center backs are tall, very tall, and great in the air). Lexi beat her defender and slipped a square ball into Mia's feet, one touch to settle and the second touch bulged the back of the net at the far post from 15 yards. 1-0 Bellevue. And at that moment, I thought the game would crack wide open. We had put the Juanita team under so much pressure, that I thought our first goal would lead to a quick second or third before halftime. I was wrong. Instead, Juanita hit an excellent long ball straight from the kick-off, we gave away a soft corner, and they scored from a well-hit cross and thumping header (did I mention that their center-backs were very tall and good in the air?). Tie-game and Juanita was full of confidence.
We had played so well and created so many chances (10/5 shots/corners to 1/1 for Juanita at half), that the 1-1 halftime score felt a bit queasy. A whiff of danger in what should've been a sweet-smelling bouquet of flowers given our overall quality. However, we knew that with a similar effort in the second half we would create enough chances to align the scoreline with the statistics. The breakthrough came in the 53rd minute. Having just came into the game, Cami made an instant impact sending a perfect early pass behind the Juanita defense for Mia who raced past her defender before calmly finishing. 2-1 Bellevue. And just 5 minutes later, Cami and Mia reversed roles, with Mia sliding an inch-perfect pass into Cami's path to hammer home on the doorstep. 3-1 Bellevue. Final score. And the sole members of Club Perfect extended their winning streak to 11 games.
Next up we have three consecutive away games, traveling to Interlake on Thursday, Hazen next Tuesday, and Mercer Island in two weeks for their senior night. With a result against Interlake on Thursday, our girls will mathematically secure their second straight Kingco league title with three games remaining to be played. We should have plenty of incentive against the Saints.
As I mentioned above, repeatedly, Juanita is very dangerous on set pieces. Every corner and free kick required our full focus and attention. And good goalkeeping. Amirah made several excellent reaction-saves off of corner-kick headers that prevented the game from turning into a dark Edgar Allen Poe nightmare for our girls. Nevermore.
I am very thankful for this team, and the community that supports it. A huge thank you to all of the boosters and parents who support the girls with all of the little (and big) acts of thoughtfulness and volunteerism. Sunsets and stadiums.
BHS 2-1 LW
38th min LW goal
61st min Mia (Lillian)
75th min Leah (Mia)
So I enjoy the work of New Zealand actor, writer and director Taika Waititi, who is the co-creator of the dry, silly, and dark comedy series What We Do In the Shadows (Taika starred in the original movie of the same name, and also wrote, starred and directed the excellent Jojo Rabbit among many others). Taika's work is quirky and weird, and WWDITS is exactly that. The show is a mockumentary comedy about a group of bufoonishly absurd and ancient vampires living together in modern Staten Island. One of the main characters is "Nandor the Relentless," who before he became a vampire was an Ottoman warlord famous for his love of pillaging (no really, it's a comedy). When asked how he got his name, Nandor replies, "They would call me Nandor the Relentless (long pause)...because I would never relent." After watching our girls against a determined Lake Washington team on Thursday night, I'm thankful we have a team full of Nandors (without the vampire and pillaging part). We overcame a 0-1 halftime deficit against the Kangs, scoring two goals in the last 20 minutes to extend our perfect start to our season. We. Were. Relentless.
In the previous 6 Kingco games, we had won every matchday by identical 3-0 scorelines, with the only exception being the 5-0 Hazen result. So we hadn't allowed a single goal in league play this season. Until Thursday. Just two minutes before halftime in a game that we bossed for large parts of the first half, LW counterpunched, and counterpunched hard. Just two minutes before halftime, LW took a throw-in deep on our right side. The thrower got the ball back from a tidy one-touch backpass, took a few dribbles inside, and launched a howitzer of a shot from 30 yards that brushed the underside of the crossbar before bulging the net. It was LW's 2nd shot of the half, but that is irrelevant given the quality of the finish. If we were going to break our 6-game shutout streak, it was an honorable way to lose it. Full respect for LW for an excellent goal.
Despite conceding late, our halftime talk wasn't fire and brimstone. Our girls had played a very good half, in fact, our first 20 minutes featured some of the most flowing and beautiful soccer we had played all year. But we couldn't seem to find the final touch to beat a very good LW keeper. So my message was simple: No panic. Stay the course. Trust that the chances will come our way. Then take those chances. I was confident that another 40 minutes of similar quality from our girls and we would turn the game around.
And we began the half with solid and steady play, but with every minute that we failed to score, the LW team grew in confidence sensing that their lead might hold. And with this renewed LW confidence, we didn't control the game as much as we did in the first half. In fact, most of the second half was a see-saw, with chances and momentum shifting back and forth. Both keepers made amazing saves to keep the game tense and tight. But just when the see-saw metaphor threatened to get a little too real as we were working hard but going nowhere, the game abruptly changed. In the 61st minute, Lillian got the ball deep on the right side before cutting back a perfect low cross that Mia attacked and finished from 6 yards out. Pandamonium and relief. BHS 1-1 LW. And the see-sawing stopped. We became the heavier older sibling refusing to get off our side of the plank as our younger sibling dangled in the air as we pressed hard for a late victory. Despite the fact that LW had a BYE on Tuesday and we had a tough leg-sapping game against Liberty (plus homecoming), our girls ignored their heavy legs and tired bodies. Relentless. We flew into tackles. Battled and scrapped for every ball. Relentless. And then with less than 5 minutes left in a game that seemed destined to go into overtime, we found our winner. The LW keeper sent a goalkick toward midfield, Lillian rose highest and sent a header directly to Mia on the wing. Mia raced by her defender and into the box before squaring to a charging Leah at the PK spot, Leah took a touch past the desperate defender, and calmly passed the ball into the net. Re-lent-less. 2-1 Bellevue and we find ourselves the sole member of Club Perfect. 10-0-0 for the season. 7-0-0 in Kingco.
Statistically, it was the closest game of our season. We managed 14/4 vs. 8/1 shots/corners against LW, which reflected the overall balance of play. But as we all know, balance of play doesn't always equal victory. LW is a very good team. And I'm thankful that we got pushed as much as we did last night. Knowing what it takes to comeback against a good team will only help us in the future.
And now we rest, recover and prepare to go again next week. We host Juanita on Tuesday before traveling to Interlake on Thursday. With our result against LW, Juanita is in sole possession of 2nd place in Kingco. So motivation for both teams will be strong. Witth a BHS victory, we effectively lock up the #1 seed for league playoffs needing only a single point from our last 4 games to secure a regular-season title; however, if Juanita prevails, they give themselves a significant boost in the chase for a first league title. So all to play for. Like our experience with LW, I expect a much tighter game than our earlier 3-0 victory against the Ravens.
BHS 3-0 @Liberty
25th min Leah (Lillian)
43rd min Leah (unassisted)
60th min Kendall (Lillian & Maddy)
Soccer can be full of oxymoron. For instance, we want players to be organized and disciplined, but with the creative freedom to try new things and be fearless in expressing themselves. We talk about playing "fierce, tough and competitive" defense while also being "poised, patient and calm" on offense. "Shoot with power...but with precise accuracy." "Cover for your teammates, but overlap in attack..." Fiercely poised? Patiently tough? Competitively calm. Most coaches are very fluent in cognitive dissonance. It's no wonder that coaches (and parents) get occasional eye-rolls from teenagers wondering why we are asking for so many seemingly impossible things. And yet we do. And to our girls' credit, they sometimes do amazingly contrary and successful things on the soccer field. We can play beautifully ugly, silkily tough, languidly quick, big and small, and sparklingly dull. But mostly we just play well. And it's working.
Liberty is, and has always been, a very talented and well-coached program. They play quick and flowing soccer. They don't just "boot it' and chase, but rather intentionally move the ball around in well-balanced patterns to keep possession. Just like we try to do too. So in one respect, we are like the duplicate Spiderman pointing meme, or two teams looking at each other through a mirror. And in tight contests between similar teams playing similar formations, it is often thin margins that determine the outcome. Fortunately, one of those "thin margins" was wearing a white #12 jersey on Tuesday, as our sophomore Leah had herself quite a night. First, in the 25th minute, Lillian received the ball at midfield and turned her defender with a great first touch, but it was the second touch that was special, an inch-perfect through ball on the ground for our right winger Leah. Leah still had some work to do, charging at the Liberty goalie from an acute angle before banging the ball off the far post for our opening goal. 1-0 Bellevue. Then in the 43rd minute, Leah got her brace, pressing high and pouncing on a loose Liberty square ball, taking a deft touch to steady herself, before smashing a low-hard shot just inside the right post. 2-0 Bellevue. Thank you Leah for being the thin margin we needed on Tuesday. Finally, in the 60th minute, we finally earned our first corner kick of the game. Maddy's cross was repelled and Hinana collected and re-fed Maddy for a second try. Maddy obliged and lobbed another ball into the box where Lillian got the first touch, and Kendall got the second, spinning a shot over the outstretched reach of the Liberty goalie. 3-0 Bellevue.
Like our game vs. MI, the final scoreline flatters us a bit. Liberty was skilled and dangerous all night. But our collective defensive effort was outstanding, and despite conceding some midfield possession, we didn't allow very many chances on our goal. And when we did, Amirah was her usual excellent self. The final stats were far narrower than usual, with a 12/1 vs. 4/3 shot/corner advantage, well below our season averages (21/4 for BHS vs. 4/1 for opponents; shots/corners).
And so we finish the first half of our Kingco season with six consecutive wins. But as we often discuss at halftime, 40 minutes does not equal a full game and halftime scores are never counted in the standings, so we have another 6 games to go to actually finish the job. And our next contest is perhaps our toughest as we host Kingco #2 Lake Washington on Thursday at 7:30 at home. LW will be eager to avenge our win from earlier this season. I expect another very tight game, but I'm secretly hoping for another one of our favorite oxymorons: the competitive blowout.
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.
BHS 4-2 Mt. View
7th min Mia (leah)
37th min Leah (Lillian)
43rd min Mt view
47th min Leah (Mia)
65th min 4-1 Lillian (Emily)
68th min 4-2 Mt view
Welcome to HoCo week. With the Homecoming dance this weekend, I've learned from past seasons that sometimes keeping focused on soccer stuff can be more challenging. There are...distractions. However, our current varsity team seems to be able to balance a wonderful sense of fun with a sharp edge of competitiveness as soon as the opening whistle sounds. It's a great team trait. And so it was during our final non-conference game versus Greater St. Helens League leaders Mt. View High School. We laughed and chatted for a half a day in travel mode, then got down to business with a solid 4-2 victory.
But before we get to the game summary, allow me to answer the St. Helens-sized question in the room. Why did we drive 3 hours to play Mt. View (especially during HoCo week...).
Here's the logic: with only 7 teams in kingco 3A, we have two default BYE weeks during our league schedule. In years past, we have tried to find a competitive non-conf game to fill out our earlier BYE date, because it gives us an opportunity to fine-tune things and get a sense for relative strength of other leagues throughout the state. But it’s a challenging task to find another 3A team with a similar BYE date since league contests usually fill up everyone’s schedule. So we posted our open date on the WIAA website and crossed our fingers. And a week later we were pleased when Mt. View HS in Vancouver showed interest in scheduling during our BYE week. Vancouver teams are strong (Camas has won the state title in 4A several times) and Mt. View looks like they will compete to earn the State bid from the Greater St. Helens League. So we eagerly scheduled the game. Long road trips are instructional. And potentially prepares us for future trips if we qualify for the state tournament. But full mea culpa, I had no idea it was HoCo week when I scheduled this game.
So we made the trip. 3 easy hours to Vancouver. A warm 83 degrees at kick-off and both benches baking in the sun. And a firm and fast (very firm) turf stadium that made it difficult to play possession soccer. However, the girls embraced the challenges and played an excellent first half. In the 7th minute. Leah cut inside from the right wing and found her opposite winger, Mia, making a great diagonal run towards goal. Leah's entry pass was sublime and unlocked Mia for a 1v1 with the keeper which she poked home with style. 1-0 Bellevue. We continued to create good chances but couldn't find the final touch required until the 38th minute, when Lillian beat two defenders deep on the right side before cutting back a cross to Leah at the PK spot, Leah's first-time re-direction was excellent and we entered halftime with a 2-0 advantage.
We began the 2nd half as we ended: in the ascendancy with great possession. So it was a surprise to concede a goal against the run of play in the 45th minute as miscommunication in our backline gave Mt. View a way into the game. ("you clear it," "no, you clear it..." "no I insist, you clear it..." "no, no, you clear it this time..." ...until the Mt. View forward interrupted our conversation by putting the ball into our net). After a series of blowout wins, it was good to experience what it feels like to have a game narrow to a single goal in the second half. How would we respond? Very well, thank you. In the 55th minute, Mia broke down the left wing and send a perfect cross to the back post where Leah finished from the doorstep. And a few minutes later, Lillian had a carbon copy tap in at the back post from a well-taken corner from Emily. Coaches insist on strong back-post runs because the ball often finds its way there and who doesn't love a tap-in at the back post? The only other blemish was an uncharacteristic 2nd miscommunication in the midfield that led to another Mt. View goal, this time from 25yards out, and to be fair, the shot was well taken and left Sabrina little chance in goal. Fair play. But we squeezed the game in the final 10 minutes and kept the final score at 4-2. A good victory against a good team in which we had to deal with all the little unexpected challenges of a long road trip.
Highlights: Mt. View had two excellent chances in the first half that could've changed the game significantly, but we have Amirah in goal, so what could've been an equalizer looked like a comfortable save denying an upper corner goal. / Maddy scored another goal directly off of a corner in the 2nd half...however, it was called back on a dubious obstruction call. Regardless, it was another well-struck ball by Maddy. Our corners are dangerous. / Everyone played well on Tuesday but I'm going to give a little extra recognition to our senior captain, Hinana. Not only was she her extremely technical and competitive self during the game, gluing us together with calm, precise possession in the midfield...but before the game even started, as we were making our way to the locker room adjacent to the field, I noticed that a lone field operation staff was trying to clumsily move the game goals into position...until one of our players took the initiative and ran over to help him move the goal. See a problem, solve a problem. Even if it's not your problem. So proud to have Hinana on our team, not just for what she contributes as a player, but for who she is as a person.
Thursday we host Mercer Island. I repeat: we host Mercer Island on Thursday. 7:30 kick-off.
That's all the motivation we need. Bring on the Islanders.
BHS 5-0 Hazen
9th minute Lillian (Leah)
11th minute Kendall (Lillian)
18th minute Hinana PK
20th minute Mia (Gaby)
55th minute Emily FK
Coaches have a tendency to quibble. It’s one of the risks of the job. But in a season in which we have started 6-0-0 with 18 goals for, 1 against and 5 shutouts, quibbling gets more challenging. “In past games we have started slowly”…but that particular quibble doesn’t hold up when analyzing our game against Hazen when between the 9th minute and 20th minute our team scores four goals. “We have moments in games when we get sloppy in our first touch and our passing isn’t as crisp as it should be,” but no team on earth finishes a game with 100% passing accuracy, and if uncharted last night’s passing performance, I’m certain it was one of our best of the season. Lastly my most consistent quibble: “our finishing conversion rate as good as it should be.” So far this season we are averaging over 21.4 shots per game and 3 goals per game while allowing 3.5 shots per game and conceding .16 goals to our opponents. So yes, we could improve our conversion rate on shots to goals, but that’s like nitpicking that a Hawaiian vacation could be improved if the Pacific Ocean was just slightly warmer…all while sipping a Mai tai and watching dolphins jump in the surf with a vibrant reddish orange sunset in full display. It’s a subjectivity correct criticism…that’s missing the point. So no quibbles from last night vs Hazen. We were very solid in a comprehensive 5-0 win. Full stop. Excellent.
The first half goals came in a rush as we scored 4 in just over 10 minutes. In the 9th minute, Lillian’s press upfield forced an errant clearance that Leah redirected right back to Lillian for an easy tap in finish. 1-0 Bellevue. Two minutes later we scored the goal of the night as we moved the ball throughout the field in quick and confident two-touch passing until we found Mia’s feet in the left wing, who squared for Lillian in the box, Lillian unselfishly dinked a simple ball into space to an overlapping Kendall who smashed the ball into the upper corner. Delicious team goal. Then in the 18th minute, Leah was released into space on the right wing from a perfect back-door through ball from Hinana, and once Leah was in on goal the defender had no choice but to foul her. Penalty kick and Hinana stepped up and confidently hit the upper right corner. 3-0 BHS. Just two minutes after that, Gaby from her center back position sent a multi-layer pass to Mia at striker (on the ground), Mia outraced the entire Hazen defense and finished for a 4-0 advantage after only 20 minutes of soccer. From there we rotated heavily, oftentimes with players in new roles (Mia at right fullback. Amirah as striker!!) and closed out the game with possession passing. Emily added a fifth goal in the 55th minute from a free kick that Josie had earned by allowing herself to be body slammed to the turf by a frustrated Hazen defender. And that was it. 5-0 victory.
Next week we travel to Vancouver to play Mt. View in our final non-conference game of the season. Mt. View defeated Stadium earlier in the season 2-0, just before we beat them 3-1, so on paper it should be a competitive game. I expect a tough and physical contest that should prepare us to play against teams that play a variety of styles and formations. And on Thursday, we welcome Mercer Island to Bellevue stadium. A year ago, we entered our rivalry game undefeated and perhaps a bit over-confident…and the islanders served up a huge helping of humility by giving us our only kingco defeat of last season. We’ll be ready. I’m hoping for a beautiful sunset-like performance.