MONROE — The Cascade and Snohomish girls soccer teams faced off twice this season, including Thursday’s 4A district 1 championship game and both team’s entire roster’s were held scoreless — unless of course you count the Bruin sisters Emily and Claire Nelson.
Both sisters scored Thursday night at Monroe High School stadium, propelling the Bruins to a 2-0 victory and the league crown.
“It’s always nice to win another trophy,” coach Jamie Gay said, of adding the district title to the Wesco 4A South title. “We’ve been working really hard for it … It feels great.”
The younger Nelson, Claire scored the game’s only goal on Sept. 20 in the 30th minute and she had the second goal in this one.
The sophomore midfielder split three defenders in the 71st minute and raced down the left side beating Taylor Knapinski easily. The Snohomish goalie waited until it was too late to challenge Nelson and was helpless to stop the shot, making the score 2-0 and all but ending the game largely influenced by the Bruin defense.
“Claire is good, crafty with the ball,” Gay said. “Does a good job taking on defenders. The insurance goal was nice.”
In the first half the team’s defenses controlled the run of play. Neither frontline made any big moves. The teams each had one corner kick and about one real threat to the goal each.
Cascade took the second-half kickoff and pushed the action quickly, earning a corner kick in the 41st minute. Denae Weigelt had a looping-bending kick that sailed into a crowd of players. After goalie Taylor Knapinski deflected a header by Emily Nelson, the senior defender recollected and buried a shot into the open part of the goal to give Cascade the 1-0 lead and the only goal it would need.
“She pounded it in,” Gay said.
Snohomish was stymied most of the way until the final minute when what looked like a certain goal was stuffed by goalkeeper Rachel Leupold, who laid out horizontally to make a spectacular save and preserve a shutout.
It was the first game back for Leupold after missing the district semifinal win over Kamiak with the flu. According to Gay, the team doesn’t expect any ill effects from the sickness for the senior keeper.
For Snohomish it looked like key injuries would hurt the team in this non-loser-out game. Goalie Taylor Knapinski and co-captain Morgan Green both went down with injuries and forced stoppage of play in the second half. But according to Snohomish coach April VanAssche both will be fine for the team’s state tournament opener next week and both returned to action.
The Snohomish coach felt like the game was a missed opportunity.
“For us it came down to us more than them,” VanAssche said. “We weren’t able to keep our composure like we wanted or move the ball around like we wanted.
“We lost that game ourselves and Cascade did a good job pushing when they needed to. Something we will look forward to on Wednesday is keeping our composure and moving the ball around.”
Wednesday is the first round of the 4A state tournament. By losing Thursday, Snohomish will go on the road to take on the No. 1 team from Districts 3/4. Cascade earned a home game at Everett Memorial Wednesday night at 7 p.m.
“It’s huge,” Gay said. “You don’t want to have to travel to Vancouver to play a game or out on the Peninsula somewhere. It’s great to be able to play at home absolutely.”
For the Panthers this is the last time a loss won’t hurt too bad and VanAssche hopes her team can learn from it.
“If you had to say something good about losing, yes. Maybe it will light a little more of a fire underneath us and give us a little bit more desire,” she said. “You never want to go in too confident and I’m hoping this will give my girls that little bit of a push from a loss to want it more.”
At Monroe H.S.
Goals— Claire Nelson (C) , Emily Nelson (C). Assists— Denae Weigelt (C) . Goalkeepers—Cascade: Rachel Leupold. Snohomish: Taylor Knapinski. Records—Cascade(14-1-3 overall), Snohomish (12-4-2).