By Aaron Lommers Herald Writer
SEATTLE — In soccer, sometimes momentum can be just as important as talent.
Bishop Blanchet seized momentum in the early minutes of its 3A state tournament opening-round game with Marysville Pilchuck on Tuesday and rode that momentum to a 2-1 victory.
It just as easily could have gone the other way as the Tomahawks had the first legitimate scoring opportunity of the match. Less than four minutes in, Mackenzie Nolte broke away from the Braves’ defense and fired a shot that went off the right side of the crossbar. It was the first of several missed opportunities for the Tomahawks in the match.
Marysville Pilchuck head coach Paul Bartley said the game could have played out differently had Nolte’s shot gone in.
“I think we would have been on them like we were in the second half and hopefully hunting for the winner at the end,” he said.
Instead, it was Bishop Blanchet holding off a furious rally by the Tomahawks in the game’s final moments.
The Braves got on the board first just minutes after Nolte’s miss when Stephanie Spiekerman got past the Tomahawks’ defense and fired a shot past goalkeeper Emily Dunston to take a 1-0 lead.
Bishop Blanchet controlled possession for most of the first 40 minutes, though the Tomahawks did mount more of an attack in the latter part of the second half.
Despite the Tomahawks’ improved offensive attack, Taylor Chambers added another goal for the Braves in the 28th minute and they would ride the two-goal cushion into halftime.
“The first goal was a good goal,” Bartley said. “They made a nice through ball and we didn’t cover it. (Spikerman) made some good cuts and they scored. On the second one, we made an error in defense and passed the ball back too soft to the goalie and (Chambers) ended up running onto it and put it away.”
Playing with a multiple-goal deficit forced the Tomahawks to not only be more aggressive in the second half, but to also take more chances.
“You have to sell out and do things you wouldn’t usually do on defense,” Bartley said. “But I thought we did a decent job generating offense in the second half, we just couldn’t put one in.”
The Tomahawks did score in in the 54th minute when the Braves were whistled for a foul in the penalty box. Senior Amanda Klep made the penalty kick for the Tomahawks to cut the deficit to 2-1. Bishop Blanchet goalkeeper Alina Hagstrom got a hand on the ball, but was unable to make the save before the ball slid past the goal line.
Bartley said his team has been a better second-half team throughout the season and it showed in its attack, but the Tomahawks continued to come up empty handed. After cutting the deficit to one goal, the Tomahawks had several chances to get the equalizer, but all of them were turned away by the Braves.
“If we would have capitalized on our opportunities we would have won the game,” Bartley said.
Bartley was disappointed after the match, but kept in perspective what his team accomplished this season.
“This is the first time that Marysville Pilchuck had won the (Wesco 3A) northern division,” he said. “It was the first time that we advanced through districts into state and it was the first time that they had ever played in a state game, so I thought it was a really good season for us.
“I feel we could have won this game and we could still be playing.”
Aaron Lommers covers prep sports for The Herald. Follow him on twitter @aaronlommers and contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
At Chief Sealth H.S.
Goals–Stephanie Spiekerman (B), Taylor Chambers (B), Amanda Klep (MP). Goalkeepers–Marysville Pilchuck: Emily Dunston. Bishop Blanchet: Alina Hagstrom. Records–Marysville Pilchuck 12-9, Bishop Blanchet not reported.