It was a moment that the nine seniors, who played their final high school game, may not have been able to appreciate as they wiped away tears and hung their heads after Columbia River handed the Mavs their first defeat of the season. The Chieftains 1-0 victory sends them to the 3A state semifinals and is the first and only blemish on an otherwise perfect season for the last Wesco team that was left in the playoffs.
"It's a tough way to end the season," Meadowdale coach Wade Foley said. "I would have rather had it go to kicks and lose on kicks … or win in overtime. You never want to lose like this."
For much of the game it looked like penalty kicks was exactly where this game would go. The Chieftains (16-0-2) from Vancouver had only allowed four goals all season with two of those coming on penalty kicks. Meadowdale had only trailed twice all year and never in the second half.
Columbia River opened in a 4-5-1 formation, with the defensive box packed. First-year coach Filomon Afenegus was afraid of the Meadowdale forwards Tisha Parsley and Emily Crichlow, the latter of which scored 18 goals on the season.
"Their forwards up top are probably the two best forwards that we've played against all year," Afenegus said. "They are very good one-on-one and we knew that coming in so we knew we had to defend in groups."
The Chieftains got a few scary chances in the first half, but Mavs Keeper Ashley Routh made save after save, including punching two balls away with one hand in a two minute period during the opening half.
Afenegus made a lineup change that he felt helped his team push the action in the second half and score.
"We just changed our formation," the Chieftains coach said. "We saw that there was space in front of their back line, so we played with two forwards up top instead of one."
The breakthrough happened in the 67th minute in a transition after the Mavs took the ball deep in the Cheiftains end. Emily Kleier found a sprinting Easton Kawawaki, who beat the Meadowdale back line and her uncontested shot gave Routh no chance at a save.
Kawawaki grabbed her head as if she couldn't believe it. The Mavs had a hard time coming to grips with what just happened as well.
"It was just a transition and we got caught up … They beat our last defender," Foley said. "Once you get beat, you are beat. Then when you are behind it's a tough thing to play catch up."
Foley felt that the loss of senior defender Jasmine Parsley was significant in such a close game.
"Not having Jas back there because of the red card last week really hurt us," he said. "It's a different defense back there with her not in it."
After falling behind, the Mavs threw everything they had at the Chieftains and nearly got the coveted equalizer in the 71st minute. Co-captain Roslyn Stapleton took a corner kick and delivered it into the goalie box, where Kendall Raecker got a strong head on the ball, but keeper Haley Case absorbed the shot squarely into her upper chest.
"In the last 15 minutes we threw everything at them," Foley said. "We just couldn't put it between the wickets. That's just the way it goes."
In 2009, also in the quarterfinals, the teams battled at Edmonds Stadium with Columbia River coming out with a 3-0 edge. That Chieftains team went on to win the 3A state title. Saturday they looked just as capable of winning two more games to end the season.
"That was a good team we played today," Foley said.
The Mavs fell short of the 2011 team, which was a bit of a surprise to make the semifinals, but that doesn't take away from what this team accomplished, winning both the Wesco 3A South and district titles.
"It's an amazing group of girls," Foley said. Very strong team; they played team ball all year long. We never allowed teams to take advantage of us. We accomplished all of our expectations."
At Edmonds Stadium.
Goals--Easton Kawawaki (C) Assists--Emily Kleier (C) Goalkeepers--Columbia River: Haley Case. Meadowdale: Ashley Routh. Records--Columbia River (16-0-2overall), Meadowdale (20-1)
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