By Jon Saperstein Herald Writer
EDMONDS — As the final seconds ticked off of the Meadowdale girls soccer team’s 2-1 victory over Shorecrest Thursday night at Edmonds Stadium, the Maverick student section began chanting, “First in Sta-a-ate, First in Sta-a-ate.”
Some of the Mavs (4-0 league, 7-0 overall) players couldn’t help but join in after the handshakes were done with the previously unbeaten in league Scots (2-1, 4-2), who shuffled off the field.
Why shouldn’t the Mavs join their fans in song? The Mavericks, who have swept the Wesco South 3A competition the first time through this season, played like a No. 1 team — Meadowdale is top-ranked in 3A in the most recent Seattle Times rankings — for much of the night Thursday.
The players realize that the season is still young, however.
“It puts a target on our back,” junior captain Emily Critchlow said of the ranking. “Everyone wants to beat us … It’s not like we are permanently ranked number one. We have to keep working and striving to get better.”
Shorecrest took dead aim at the No. 1 target in the early going.
The Scots played light on their feet and with energy from the opening whistle, keeping the ball on the Mavericks’ end. Meadowdale’s only real offense came on the counterattack. One such opportunity came in the 12th minute when Tisha Parsley pitched a shot from the left side of the box to the upper far post corner in a spot that goalkeeper Frida Swensen had no chance to save. Erica Beaulieu set up Parsley with the assist and the Mavs led 1-0.
Shorecrest kept charging, earning three free kicks deep in Maverick territory in the first 31 minutes of the half. Freshman Alexa Iacolucci attempted all three. The first in the fourth minute found a teammate’s head, but was saved by Meadowdale keeper Ashley Routh. The second in the 25th minute from 25 yards out hit the top of the crossbar, drawing ‘oohs’ from the crowd. But the third — from nearly the same spot on the field as the previous — glided over the outstretched arm of a leaping Routh to tie the score at 1-1.
Meadowdale coach Wade Foley was proud of his team’s defense on the day, but was a bit concerned with the number of fouls his team surrendered deep in the end, giving Iacolucci chance after chance to make noise.
“She’s got a sweet little foot,” Foley said of Iacolucci. “We’ll definitely be aware of that next time. We’ll have to avoid those fouls so close to our end.”
Other than the free kicks the Meadowdale defense was composed and calmly deflected the Scots attacks.
“I think we probably have a better defense than we had last year,” Foley said.
It’s a bold statement considering defense was a big reason the Mavs made the state semifinals in 2011. It was even true Thursday without one of the unit’s senior leaders, Hannah Shouse, who missed the game and will be out until next week with an injury.
Offensively it took a bit to get going for the Mavs, but they began putting the pressure on early in the second half. Unofficially, Meadowdale had a 7-0 corner kick edge, which allowed for the game-winner in the 47th minute.
Roslyn Stapleton’s attempt found the head of Kendall Raecker, who put it past Swensen to make it 2-1. The Mavs controlled possession for the rest of the game and only several saves by Swensen kept Meadowdale from adding to the lead.
“Normally we are just a second-half team,” Stapleton said. “We come out better in the second half. We are working on coming out better in the first. It took us a while to adjust.”
The captains Stapleton and Critchlow are proud of their team so far, but when asked what they are looking forward to, both answered simultaneously, “Everett.”
The two teams have battled back and forth in recent years and 2012 is the first time in a few years that they won’t face each other twice during the regular season. The Seagulls are ranked sixth in state and are the final regular season game on the schedule.
At Edmonds Stadium
Goals—Tisha Parsley (M), Alexa Iacolucci (S), Kendall Raecker (M). Assists—Roslyn Stapleton (M), Erica Beaulieu (M). Goalkeepers—Shorecrest: Frida Swensen Meadowdale: Ashley Routh.
Records—Shorecrest (2-1 league, 4-2 overall), Meadowdale (4-0, 7-0)