EDMONDS — Entering its 3A state tournament quarterfinal game against Mercer Island on Saturday, the Edmonds-Woodway girls soccer team was on an incredible run of form.
Eight straight wins. Three meaningless goals allowed in that span. A balanced offense buttressed by an elite goalkeeper and stout back line.
For reasons that Warriors coach Bill LeCompte will be seeking throughout the offseason, that form abandoned his team Saturday, as Mercer Island scored twice in the second half en route to a 2-0 win.
Edmonds-Woodway never got on track, and simply didn’t create enought offensive chances from the run of play, even after falling behind, to threaten the Islanders.
Mercer Island improved to 14-1-3 with the victory, and will face Kamiakin in a state semifinal game at 2 p.m Friday at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. Kamiakin beat Lakeside 2-1 in overtime in another quarterfinal match Saturday.
“In the first half, we really struggled, and played more reactive than proactive,” said LeCompte, whose Warriors finish the season at 13-4-3. “I’m not sure why that was, but we talked about it at halftime and wanted to come out as the more dominant team. We looked better three or four minutes in (to the second half), but then we lost it again.”
Chances were few and far between for both teams for the first half hour, as each side probed and prodded at the other. Mercer Island had the better of play throughout the first half, and turned up the heat with a few chances in the last 12 minutes of the period.
“That’s a really good team, and their defensive structure is really hard to break down,” Mercer Island coach James Valles said of Edmonds-Woodway. “We tried to attack the width and get their back line chasing back to their own goal instead of trying to go right at them or through them.”
Both Mercer Island goals — the first by Kendall Riley in the 59th minute and the second by Nicole Mandt in the 70th — came from the Islanders’ midfielders possessing the ball out wide and taking Warriors defenders with them, before cutting it back to onrushing forwards in the middle of the field.
The Islanders’ Jessie Stenberg assisted on both goals.
In contrast, outside of a pair of devilish Molly Carden free kicks and a beautiful cross by Gaby Chappell that was punched away before it could be headed goalwards by Kyra Hicks, the Warriors didn’t do much offensively.
“As a whole, we just weren’t communicating very well, and they had big numbers behind the ball, so when you’re attacking in ones and twos instead of with numbers, it’s just not going to go well,” LeCompte said. “And when you press and try too hard, it’s harder to play clean.”
The Warriors’ best offensive moments came with Hicks and fellow sophomore Dara Stotland as a duo up top. Hicks, whose older sister Hannah did everything she could as goalkeeper to keep the Warriors close on Saturday, scored nine goals since being promoted to the varsity squad in late September.
The Warriors graduate five seniors, including Carden and Hannah Hicks, who LeCompte called “one of the best goalies to ever play here,” but they’re in a good position to continue their success.
“I’m feeling disappointed that we didn’t finish our opportunities, and I thought we had a chance to go all the way this year,” Carden said. “But I’m proud of us for making it this far. We’ll have a solid team next year with a lot of strong players that have already played a lot together.”