Jackson’s Kathryn Cheng (center) tries to win the ball as Lake Stevens’ Callaway Knutson (left) and Amber Elliano defend during a Wesco 4A match Thursday at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jackson’s Kathryn Cheng (center) tries to win the ball as Lake Stevens’ Callaway Knutson (left) and Amber Elliano defend during a Wesco 4A match Thursday at Everett Memorial Stadium. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Jackson girls soccer claims 6th straight Wesco 4A crown

Gabriela Franco scored her first goal of the season to help the Timberwolves beat Lake Stevens 3-0.

EVERETT — The Jackson girls soccer team refused to relinquish its traditional spot atop the Wesco 4A standings, leaving no doubt Thursday as to what school owns the league’s top program.

Jackson and Lake Stevens owned an identical record heading into the season’s final regular-season game. With the teams playing to a scoreless tie three weeks ago, the idea seemed plausible that this could be the season the Timberwolves’ reign ended.

Not this year. For the sixth consecutive fall, Jackson claimed its Wesco 4A crown.

Gabriela Franco and Kathryn Cheng scored first-half goals, and Keile Hansen added one in the second to help the Timberwolves preserve the streak and earn a 3-0 Wesco 4A win at Everett Memorial Stadium.

“I’m starting to run out of fingers,” Timberwolves coach Sarah Smart said as the team posed for a postgame picture, now needing two hands to display her team’s string of consecutive titles.

“(We) played phenomenal. We controlled the ball and had excellent possession from everyone on the field. Everything that could have went right went right.”

The scoreless tie between Jackson (15-0-1, 13-0-1 Wesco 4A) and Lake Stevens (13-2-1, 12-1-1) on Oct. 2 marked the only time either team had been held scoreless all year.

The Vikings had only allowed three goals during league play entering Thursday’s game. Jackson matched that total in 80 minutes.

The Timberwolves dominated in every facet, putting 10 shots on goal, while the Vikings never truly threatened Jackson goalkeeper Brooke Vandermolen.

Franco scored her first goal of the season in the 28th minute, putting Jackson in front 1-0, and the Timberwolves rolled from there.

Cheng scored in the 38th on a free kick, and Hansen added a second-half goal.

IMPACT

The win gave Jackson its sixth consecutive Wesco 4A title, and the Timberwolves now enter the postseason hoping to make a deep run in the 4A state tournament. In each of the past two years Jackson has been eliminated in the state quarterfinals.

Lake Stevens capped off a brilliant regular season and enters the postseason hoping to make a return state trip after suffering an opening-round loss last fall.

TOP PERFORMERS

Gabriela Franco, Jackson — The sophomore midfielder was extremely active before coming out late in the second half. Her first goal of the season was the game-winner of a league championship game.

“Gabi has been trying to score all season,” Smart said. “She’s had brilliant shots — post, post, great saves — and then her first goal of the season is the game-winning goal against Lake Stevens to win Wesco 4A. Wow.”

Keile Hansen, Jackson — Hansen seemingly put the game out of reach with a second-half goal in the 61st minute. The senior collected the ball about 12 yards from goal in the middle of the field and blasted a shot through traffic and into the back of the net. Hansen also was essential in the Timberwolves’ ability to dominate ball possession.

ANOTHER CLEAN SHEET

Only twice has Lake Stevens been shut out, and both times Jackson has been responsible. In fact, their Thursday win marked the 11th shutout for the Timberwolves this fall.

INJURIES

Lake Stevens senior midfielder Samantha Foley suffered an apparent leg injury early in the first half. She was carted off the field and did not return.

UP NEXT

Jackson opens the Wes-King 4A District Tournament against Redmond at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Everett Memorial Stadium in a winner-to-state match.

Lake Stevens opens the tournament against Issaquah at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Issaquah High School in another winner-to-state match.

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