As I told the girls at training on Monday, our next week of soccer will go a long way in determining the final outcome of our regular season. In three successive games, we play 3 of the top 4 contenders for our league title. First of these challenges was a rematch against Redmond. Of all of our games in the first half of our Kingco season, Redmond gave us the most difficulty in our 2-2 draw back in mid-September. So we knew we needed to put in a good performance. Redmond is a difficult team to break-down, are very physical, and have just enough pace up front to cause problems if we aren't sharp defensively. So despite the fact that Redmond held us to a season-low 8 shots on Tuesday (we had been averaging over 20 per game previously), I thought we played a very mature, very disciplined game. Our defense was tight and organized. We matched their physicality, and held the Mustangs to just a few spare opportunities. And when they did get a chance, Madi was in the right place at the right time making important saves. It was a very solid win against a solid team. In attack, we got better and better as the game went along, stringing together patient and clever combinations in midfield before releasing our strikers and wingers into dangerous areas. Of course, from Redmond's perspective, the most dangerous area was wherever Jojo was located when she got the ball. Our no12 was in imperious form, and her two goals were the difference on a cold, chilly night in Redmond. Her first goal was due to some great pressing from Kiley, who forced a turn-over and immediately set Jojo free in the box for a finish to the right netting just before halftime. An excellent time to score to build some momentum. The second came ten minutes into the final half and was a beautiful team goal. From a Redmond goal kick, we won the ball, kept possession and rotated the ball to Kiley on the left wing. Nikole made a gorgeous overlap and Kiley's timing on the pass was perfect, bisecting the last two Redmond defenders. Nikole's cut-back cross was simple and effective, setting up Jojo to turn around the last defender and slap a hard shot just below the diving Mustang keeper: 2-0 and the game was in total Bellevue control. And remained that way until the very very end. It was a shame that we lost our shutout in the last minute from two dubious corner kicks (apparently the ball was out-of-bounds from a Redmond touch before their corner was awarded), but in the end, a 2-1 scoreline earns the same amount of league points as a 2-0 scoreline. Job done. Highlights: Jojo took her chances with aplomb, and the rest of our midfield and strike-force were very good too. Kiley added another assist to her team-leading tally, and consistently threatened, whether she was at striker or either wing; Joelle was tireless on the left wing and Sophie was physically overwhelming on the right, engaging in a personal battle of attrition with her Mustang opponent; Grace gave us good minutes on both wings and is very very dangerous when we can get her the ball in spaces where she can run at defenses; although Carly didn't score on her first touch of the game like she did versus Juanita, her many touches versus Redmond helped dictate our offensive tempo. We look our best when playing two-touch soccer in midfield, and Carly did an excellent job (along with Katie, Ellie, Ana and Courtney) of keeping the ball moving and in our possession. There were times versus Redmond when we looked our absolute best. Not yet a complete performance, but flashes of brilliance that are encouraging as we get closer to the end of the season. But really, the defining characteristic of our game versus Redmond was the solidity of our defense. Good team defense will always give us a chance to win. And I thought we were very good on Tuesday; Madi is becoming more assured and confident and was excellent against Redmond; It was one of Nikole's best games of the season on the left, Paige was her usual dependable self on the right, and our three-furies at center-back (Maud, Caylee and Catie) were dead-eyed tough, composed and fleet in cover. Retribution was ours versus Redmond, we settled the score against the first team to take points from us earlier in the season. The only other team to take points off Bellevue? Mercer Island. They're next. Let's hope our girls are in a similar winning mood on Thursday night.