Bellevue 1-2 Shorecrest
3rd min 0-1 Shorecrest corner
11th min 0-2 Shorecrest FK
81st min 1-2 Lillian (Mia)
That didn't go how we wanted it to.
We lost our State quarterfinal 1-2 to a committed and well-organized Shorecrest team on Saturday night. It hurts. A lot. But well done to the Shorecrest team and coaches and we wish them well as they head to Sparks Stadium for the Final Four next week.
It just wasn't our night. We had talked a lot in our pre-game meeting about set pieces. Shorecrest scores a lot of goals from free kicks and corners. That's not a criticism. that's respect for how Shorecrest has set up their team to be successful: they have players who serve a very good driven long ball, great headers of the ball, and a committed approach to pouncing on 2nd balls. It's a formula that works in tight post-season games. So we knew that if we could limit their set pieces in dangerous areas the odds would be in our favor for a successful overall outcome. However, as we noted yesterday after our win against Bonney (in a reverse situation) there is a difference between knowing something is coming, and actually stopping it. So we conceded after 3 minutes from a well-worked corner. We got caught watching the "washing machine" rotation around our goalkeeper (which we knew about ahead of time), and their tall center-back found a yard of space at the back post for a free header. Her initial attempt was blocked but the excellent Shorecrest #8 was quickest to react and poked the ball home from the doorstep. 0-1 Shorecrest. And just a few minutes later Shorecrest doubled their lead. More set pieces. This time we conceded a free kick from 30yards, and the Shorecrest #3 hit a controlled shot to the near-post side of our goal. 0-2 Shorecrest. Set pieces were the difference.
For the balance of the remaining 70 minutes, Shorecrest gave a clinic on how to play tight, organized, and tactically sound defense. Their backline covered for each other on the wings to neutralize our speed advantages, and boomed all dangerous loose balls high and wide, taking no chances on a slick and slippery night. They slowed the pace of play. There were lots and lots of throw-ins. But even disciplined defensive tactics need moments of individual excellence when enduring a siege, and the Shorecrest keeper made several excellent saves when it looked certain we would score. It was one-way traffic as we camped out in the Shorecrest half trying to find a way to cut our two-goal deficit. We hit the post a lot. Sometimes even both posts with the same shot. We created plenty of great chances to get back into the game, but there are no post-season bonuses for possession statistics or shot advantages. It just wasn't our night. We got a consolation goal in the 81st minute already into 4 minutes of stoppage time when Leah played a smooth entry pass to Mia down the left wing, Mia crossed and Lillian snapped a header into the back of the net. It was a super goal, just too little and too late. Final Score 1-2 Shorecrest.
Nobody wants to read about the many many life lessons that can be found in bitter defeat, so I'll save that truth for a later time (I get it, I hate losing too). Instead, I want to give a written hug to our nine seniors. They have been the core of our program for this season and the past four years. They are an extraordinary group of young women, and we'll miss them dearly. Thank you to Alex, Amber, Camille, Emilie, Gaby, Lexi N, Lexi T, Lillian, and Lily for everything you have given to this program. I'm sad our collective soccer journey has ended, but I'm looking forward to following along as you pursue your next adventures. Remember, soccer is the most important, least important thing.
Finally, thank you to everyone who supported this program this year. Our families and supporters are positive and steadfast. Our parent volunteers are amazing and contribute so many opportunities for our girls to create lifelong memories. And huge thanks to our coaching staff for your dedication to this program: John, Annika, Payton, and Imad are tremendous coaches and even better people. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
A week from today we'll gather again to reflect on what has been, with some time for the hurt of Saturday to subside, a wonderful edition of Bellevue girls soccer.
See you all at the banquet.