MOUNT VERNON – On a night when shiver-inducing weather initially seemed to be the most powerful force on the field, the Edmonds-Woodway girls soccer team countered with lightning.
With two quick goals in final six minutes of the first half, the Warriors zapped Oak Harbor 2-1 in a winner-to-state Class 4A Northwest District playoff game on a frigid Wednesday night at Mount Vernon High School.
While Edmonds-Woodway (13-4) won the district championship and secured its first trip to the state tournament, Oak Harbor (13-2-2) returns to Mount Vernon to play Snohomish in a winner-to-state, loser-out contest 7 p.m. Friday. Edmonds-Woodway will host a first-round state playoff game next Tuesday night.
The district title is the first in school history for the E-W girls. “Here it is,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Bill LeCompte said. “History in the making.”
The victory was extra special for LeCompte, who graduated from Oak Harbor High in 1991 and also helps coach the Warriors boys soccer team, which won the district championship last spring.
LeCompte, now in his fourth season as the girls head coach, said he knew his team had talent but, “It was a matter of whether or not they could put it all together.”
The Warriors soundly answered that question Wednesday. Everything started coming together during an early season loss to Jackson, according to senior captain Rebekah Wells. Despite losing that game, the Warriors made a furious comeback in the final 20 minutes. Since then, their offense and defense have clicked – a perfect recipe for cooking up a much-appreciated district title. “We all wanted it,” Wells said.
As for the chilling weather that made the players’ breath visible from the press box, Wells didn’t give it much thought. “It was really cold, but we’re sort of getting used to it.”
Sophomore midfielder Kayla Gaska opened the scoring for Edmonds-Woodway with a net-seeking blast from thirty yards out near the right sideline that gave the Warriors a 1-0 advantage with 6:25 remaining in the first half.
Just four minutes later, E-W struck again. This time, Wells found teammate Jessica Smith wide open ten yards inside the goalie box. Smith corralled the ball and calmly booted a low shot into the left side of the net for the game-winner.
Oak Harbor came out roaring in the second half, generating a much-needed goal. Senior forward Jenny White cut the score to 2-1 when she overcame a difficult angle deep in the right corner with a high line drive that snuck under the crossbar 2:10 into the second period.
Oak Harbor, the Western Conference North Division No. 1 seed, piled up scoring chances in the second half, but Edmonds-Woodway, the Wesco South No. 1, never cracked under the Wildcats’ persistent pressure.
One of Oak Harbor’s best opportunities came on Kaylea Kingma’s free kick with 5:15 remaining. From 30 yards out on the left side, Kingma looped the ball deep inside the box. Teammate Gretyl Pruss seemed ready to poke in the equalizing tally, but the ball squirted harmlessly out of bounds.
Oak Harbor piled up eight second-half shots, while Edmonds-Woodway had just two. “We were kind of holding on for dear life at the end,” LeCompte said. But life is sweet when you make history.
Goals-Edmonds-Woodway: Gaska, Smith. Oak Harbor: White. Goalkeepers-Edmonds-Woodway: Natterstad. Oak Harbor: Shulock. Records-Edmonds-Woodway 13-4 overall. Oak Harbor 13-2-2.
Snohomish 2, Shorewood 0: For the second straight night, senior midfielder Lindsey Kihm ensured Snohomish would play another game. Kihm scored the game-winning goal in the closing minutes of the first half as the Panthers held off Shorewood 2-0 in a loser-out Class 4A Northwest District playoff game at Mount Vernon High School.
The Wesco North No. 3 seed, Snohomish (13-5 overall) dominated early and finally connected with 6:04 remaining in the first half after misfiring on several excellent chances.
Sophomore midfielder Brittney Marshall ignited the scoring play when she cruised past a Shorewood defender with a quick crossover dribble on the right side of the field about 40 yards from Thunderbirds net. Marshall pushed upfield and then placed a perfect pass to teammate Kihm, who exploited a seam in the middle of Shorewood’s defense.
Kihm collected the ball in stride and ripped a kick that sailed past Shorewood goalkeeper Brittany Williams to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead.
“I think we had a lot of solid chances and a lot of opportunities,” said Kihm, who had one goal and one assist in the Panthers’ 3-1 loser-out win Tuesday against South No. 2 Jackson.
Sophomore defender MacKenna Stewart scored an insurance goal for Snohomish on a header about 25 minutes into the second half.
Snohomish, which outshot Shorewood 14-5, had success using its recently shuffled lineup – four Panthers are playing new positions. But as Snohomish coach Dan Pingrey said, “So far, so good.”
Pingrey usually scouts opponents religiously, but right now he said he is completely focused on his team. “It’s a brand new season … We’re just trying to play our best.”
Shorewood, the Wesco South third seed who finished the season at 11-6-1, had won seven straight games. The Thunderbirds advanced to Wednesday’s game after defeating Monroe, the North No. 4 seed, 2-0 in a pigtail contest on Saturday before topping North No. 2 Cascade 1-0 in a shootout Tuesday.
Shorewood coach Joe Hampson said he was proud his team peaked at the end of the season after enduring a slow start. “We feel good about the run that we had,” he said. “It was rewarding to finish as strong as we did.”
Goals-Snohomish: Kihm, Stewart. Goalkeepers-Shorewood: Williams, Dillow. Snohomish: Lee. Records-Shorewood 11-6-1 overall. Snohomish 13-5.