By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
MARYSVILLE — It really wasn’t a fair fight.
The Anacortes girls soccer team asked its freshman goalie in her first playoff game to go toe-to-toe with Lakewood’s Miranda Head — one of the best keepers in the area and a four year starter — in a shootout.
Head and the Cougars hadn’t lost a shootout in two years and the result was not a surprise Saturday afternoon at Dick Cardinal Stadium as Lakewood won 2-1 with a huge 4-1 penalty-kick edge, capturing the first-round game of the 2A district tournament.
“When we get an opportunity to get her to PKs … she hasn’t gotten through a PK while she’s been in high school without saving at least one,” Lakewood coach Jeremiah Wohlgemuth said.
Anacortes sailed its first attempt over the crossbar, scored on the second and Head saved the third. The Seahawks didn’t get a fourth because Kiley Brown, Head, Kennady Bonnallie and Taylor Studzinski all made it look easy on their attempts, driving low, firm shots to the corners where Anacortes’ Tara Augustoni had no chance.
Head has a hard time describing why she has been so effective in penalty kick situations, but both she and her teammates have utmost confidence in those situations. She said she relies completely on instinct.
“I can’t predict,” the senior captain said. “I guess wrong when I try to predict.”
She does have the same routine before each shootout, however.
“The first thing I do is ask God to help me because I can’t do it by myself.”
The Cougars (12-3-1) almost didn’t get a chance to take penalty kicks, since they trailed 1-0 for most of the second half into stoppage time after a 50th-minute goal by Catherine Miles gave the Seahawks (12-5) the lead.
It looked liked the Cougars might drop into the loser’s bracket of the tournament until Brown saved the day.
During stoppage time, the ball trickled out of bounds deep in Anacortes’ side. Wohlgemuth sent Studzinski, his throw-in specialist to take the throw.
“We run it like a corner,” the Lakewood coach said. “For us it’s a scoring opportunity any time we can get her around the box.”
Studzinski’s throw flew through a pack of Seahawks and Cougars in the middle of the field to the waiting feet of a wide-open Brown on the far side. Brown had time to set her feet, take a step and drill a curling shot around the near post.
“When the ball was coming in, I was thinking how embarrassing it would be to miss,” the senior co-captain and defender said with a smile.
Head said that she was nervous as the seconds ticked away and she was helpless in her goalie box, but she had faith in her teammates.
“I’m really close with my defense, especially Kiley,” Head said. “I know they will make it happen.”
It was a rough game with plenty of whistles and fouls. Lakewood was called for two yellow cards and Anacortes one. The referee blew the whistle in some strange places. Lakewood committed a particularly hard foul on Miles in the 75th minute, but there was no card even though Miles did not return to the game. Later Wohlgemuth was whistled for a card while attending to his own player who was injured on a foul.
Perhaps the most surprising call came on Anacortes’ goal, when the Lakewood sideline thought Miles was offside. The Cougar defense appeared to assume the flag would be raised, but it never came.
Wohlgemuth told his team to not let the referee affect their play.
“I’m not going to say anything negative about refs,” Wohlgemuth said. “The bottom line is we shouldn’t allow the referee to help us win or lose the game.”
The last time Lakewood lost in a shootout was to Sehome in the 2009 district quarterfinals. The same two teams play Tuesday in a winner-to-state semifinal hosted by the Mariners (15-1).