By Mike Cane Herald Writer
MUKILTEO — Diminutive Lauren Luke is always one of the smallest players on the soccer field, but she makes an enormous impact.
Proving once again that bigger isn’t always better, Luke scored two second-half goals and helped the extremely fast, skilled Kamiak High School girls soccer team beat the Snohomish Panthers 2-0 Thursday in a battle of division leaders at Kamiak High.
Luke, a junior forward, has a team-high 10 goals this season for Class 4A Western Conference South Division leader Kamiak, which on Tuesday endured its first loss of the season but bounced back against Snohomish. Two days after losing 1-0 against Monroe, Kamiak (8-1 in Wesco, 24 points; 9-1-1 overall) knocked off Snohomish (7-2 Wesco, 19 points; 8-2 overall), which was in first place in the 4A Wesco North going into the game.
“I feel we had a lot more confidence tonight,” Kamiak goalkeeper Tana Foster said, “and we were more into the game and more focused than normal, so that really helped out a lot.”
“Whenever we had something go not the way we planned, we fixed it right away,” said Foster, a Knights co-captain who made a spectacular one-on-one save late in the second half.
This season, South-versus-North crossover games count in the division standings. Kamiak coach Beth Stewart made sure her players understood the significance of playing Snohomish.
“Beth is really inspirational. She told us this was a big game. It was a team effort and we all just came out and (earned) the win,” said Luke.
A third-year starter who missed a large portion of last season because of a knee injury, Luke scored in the fifth minute of the second half (Cassidy Seckman assist) and made it 2-0 with just under 13 minutes remaining.
Both of Luke’s goals were from close range. The second one was set up by Rachel Rinke’s picturesque corner kick. Deep in the goalie box, Luke controlled the ball and kicked it inside the right post.
Luke has a knack for slithering through the defense and finishing.
“She’s just a sneaky player and she has such incredible foot skill,” coach Stewart said. “She can make the ball do whatever she wants it to do. In those tight spaces she has very quick feet and is able to slot it.”
Finishing offensive chances was a major problem for Kamiak when it lost to Monroe. The same issue plagued the Knights in the first half against Snohomish: Kamiak out-shot the Panthers 8-0 but failed to connect.
“They were trying to kill the ball instead of just finishing,” Stewart said, “so we talked about it at halftime. It just seemed like they were winding up to kick it as hard as they can and (shots) were going over the net every time. Much better composure with our finishing in the second half.”
Kamiak kept Snohomish goalkeeper Melissa Dreves busy. The junior made six saves (three in each half), including a sensational close-range stop against Kamiak forward Emma Makela with 8:30 remaining in the game.
“Kamiak is a very, very fast team,” Snohomish coach April VanAssche said, “and they came out fast from the beginning. We (expected) that and we were ready for it (but) I think we played more defense than we wanted to play this game.”
Added VanAssche: “I know that we didn’t go to the highest level of soccer we could go, and (Kamiak) did.”
On Tuesday, both teams play another crossover game. Snohomish plays Cascade (4-5 Wesco, 11 points) and Kamiak plays new North leader Lake Stevens (6-3 Wesco, 20 points). Lake Stevens beat Cascade 1-0 on Thursday.
Mike Cane: firstname.lastname@example.org. Check out the prep sports blog Double Team at www.heraldnet.com/doubleteam and follow Cane on Twitter at MikeCaneHerald.