By Zac Hereth
EVERETT — Sometimes the ball just bounces the other team’s way.
That’s what happened to the Jackson girls soccer squad Saturday in its hard-fought 2-1 double-overtime loss to Issaquah in a 4A state tournament quarterfinal matchup at Everett Memorial Stadium.
Amongst a cluster of players, the ball bounced back and forth between defenders, offensive players and the crossbar before Issaquah’ Tori Wheeler snuck a header just past Timberwolves goalkeeper Kayleigh Sedlacek with less than three minutes to go in the second extra period.
“Their effort was phenomenal,” Jackson coach Sarah Smart said of her team. “They played as hard as they could. … We did our game plan the way we wanted to. The result just wasn’t what we wanted.”
Both teams matched each other in a physical back-and-forth contest, with players regularly throwing their bodies in front of the ball to make plays on defense.
The Timberwolves drew first blood when a pass from Emma Rich ricocheted off a defender right to sophomore Katie Cheng, who blasted the ball past Issaquah’s Chloe Lang to give Jackson a 1-0 lead in the 24th minute.
“I was like, ‘This is so great, there’s no one near me, I’m wide open,’ ” Cheng said. “It was just a great opportunity. I’m glad I was there.”
After Cheng’s goal, the Timberwolves controlled the ball for much of the later stages of the first half.
“I think that our team had a lot of confidence coming off of that,” Cheng said.
Keile Hansen just missed putting Jackson up by two goals, but a great effort by Lang thwarted the attempt.
Issaquah, needing a goal to even things up before the halftime, tied it up in the 38th minute when an open Catey Nelson received a pass from Mariah Van Halm on the right side of the box. Nelson quickly gathered the ball and sent a missle past to the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.
The Eagles, riding momentum from the game-tying goal just before halftime, took back control of the ball for most of the second half.
Issaquah got a number of good looks at the goal late in the second half, including a wide-open look from the right side of the box off of a corner kick that Wheeler sent sailing just above the crossbar.
Sedlacek made several great saves down the stretch, one on a high shot that nearly slipped through her outstretched hands for a goal.
“Her effort was phenomenal,” Smart said of her senior goalkeeper. “She gives us the best chance that we would ever have out there. She will be missed.”
The loss marks the second straight season Jackson (15-3-0) has been bounced in the quarterfinal round by a team from KingCo.
The Eagles (18-2), seeking their second state title in three years and Tom Bunnell’s fifth in 14 seasons as head coach, move on to the semifinal round to face Camas or Skyline on Friday.
“I loved the effort of my team,” Cheng said. “We’re all so close, we work together and we’re just like a family out there. I’m sad this is the way our season had to end, but I think it was a good one together.”