It was a night of season firsts on Thursday night: it was our first home league opener, our first time playing Redmond HS after they dropped from 4A to 3A this year, our first OT, and our first minor blemish as we tied 2-2 versus a very scrappy and hard-working Redmond team. The game had a slightly sloppy beginning as both teams had several passes skip past their intended targets on the slick turf. In the early going, there seemed to be more throw-ins than completed passes. For both teams. Redmond opened the scoring in the 8th minute from a free kick on our right side. It was a perfectly struck ball that found the upper right corner and left Madi no chance. It happens. I was more interested in how we would respond than disappointed by the goal. We responded well. Less than 30 seconds later we equalized when Ellie made a perfect pass to free Joelle on the left wing, who then passed to JoJo in the middle for a quick two-touch goal. It was a great response. 1-1. The rest of the half was fairly balanced. We probably had slightly better possession statistics, but Redmond outshot us for the first half 6-5, and most our opportunities came late. But we made our limited chances count on a well-taken corner by Sophie; after rattling around the box Ellie stabbed home from close range and we took the lead 2-1. Welcome back to Bellevue soccer Sophie Butterfield. We missed you. Side note: our corners were dangerous all night as Sophie and Catie served up dangerous crosses, but we do need to work on the art of the point-blank header. There were several amazing opportunities that we just couldn't redirect into the Redmond goal. So although we had the lead at half-time, we weren't dominant. Redmond had two pacey wingers who worked very hard on defense and made it difficult for us to link up in the wide channels. Overall, Redmond was very organized in defense, in particular, their central defenders did an excellent job of being physical with our strikers, denying many clear chances. Grace had been averaging 6-7 shots per game and last night was reduced to just two chances on goal. Perhaps we can do a better job of finding our strikers feet in our build-up, but full credit to the two Redmond center backs.Redmond knotted the game at two apiece in the 57th minute from an excellent pass that freed up their left winger. There was a hint of offsides, but it was close enough that we can't complain too much at the result. I thought Madi made an excellent challenge on the ball, racing off her line and closing the angle, but the deflected shot just trickled over the line to tie the game. For the last 20 minutes, and all of OT, we increased the tempo and looked the more likely team to grab a winning goal; however, it just wasn't our night and each subsequent chance just slid by the post or was scooped up by the the Redmond GK. At the final whistle, my emotions were mixed: I can't fault the work-rate and effort given by our girls. They worked very hard against a well-organized and physical team; however, we dropped points on home turf and that never feels very good.Highlights: Or rather lowlights...only four games into our season and our line-up of wounded and sick players continue to grow. I'm proud and thankful for the girls who played huge minutes last night who weren't feeling their best (Katie F, Paige, etc.). By the end of the game last night, we had one substitute from a roster of 20 girls. And couldn't even put a healthy 11 on the field. I'm hopeful it's a very restful weekend for our girls; soup and lots of water; Ana continued her great play from Sammamish with a very solid evening in an unfamiliar position at right back; and Paige likewise continued her good form even though she also was slightly out-of-position on the left. But good soccer players can play anywhere, and both girls stepped up against two quick Redmond opponents; Joelle's relentless work-rate gave us a spark late in the game as she deputized in central midfield; and the senior square of Maud, Catie, Ellie and Katie were as solid as ever in the middle of our defense. Please rest-up, we need more healthy bodies for next week as we play both teams ahead of us in the early league table: @ MI on Tuesday and LW on a rare Friday night game at home.