MUKILTEO — The Jackson and Kamiak girls soccer teams renewed their rivalry Tuesday night in an early-season showdown of state contenders.
Once again, the Timberwolves prevailed.
Jackson freshman Gabi Franco netted the go-ahead goal in the 70th minute and Katie Cheng added another score just moments later, lifting the Timberwolves to a 3-1 win over their rivals in a rain-soaked Wesco 4A clash at Kamiak High School between two teams that reached the state playoffs last season.
“There’s always been kind of an impetus on each team to beat each other, because usually whichever team (wins) gets first place,” Jackson coach Sarah Smart said. “It is a huge rivalry between us.”
Jackson and Kamiak are plenty familiar with each other, having squared off nine times over the previous three seasons.
The teams are 2-2-2 against each other in regular-season meetings during that span, but Jackson has won when it’s mattered most. The Timberwolves have beaten Kamiak in each of the past three district-title matches, clinching a state berth each time.
Jackson, which has claimed three consecutive outright Wesco 4A titles, extended its unbeaten streak against Kamiak to six matches with Tuesday’s victory.
The Timberwolves (4-0 overall, 3-0 league) opened the scoring with a 13th-minute goal by senior Morgan Heinrich. After teammate Anna Smith lofted a kick into the box, Heinrich jumped up for a contested header that sent the ball trickling in front of the net. Heinrich then spun around and poked the loose ball past Kamiak goalkeeper Stephanie Roestel from short range for an early 1-0 lead.
Kamiak junior standout Hunter Beirne evened the match shortly after halftime, scoring on a leaping 42nd-minute header that came off a corner kick from senior Kamryn Adcock. It was Beirne’s seventh goal of the young season.
As the second half dwindled away in a 1-1 stalemate, the two rivals appeared headed toward a draw.
But Jackson changed that in the blink of an eye, pulling away with two goals in less than a minute.
The Timberwolves’ go-ahead score came on a brilliant sequence, beginning with a cross into the middle from sophomore Emma Rich. Senior standout Jadyn Edwards, a University of New Mexico commit, then flicked a perfectly placed header past the back line of Kamiak’s defense.
From there, Franco raced to the ball and calmly slotted a left-footed tiebreaking goal into the right side of the net.
“I just had to stay composed,” Franco said. “In my head, I was like, ‘Don’t miss this, Gabi.’ And I didn’t miss it.”
Cheng put the match away less than a minute later, scoring from short range after Roestel mishandled the slick ball in front of the net.
Smart was thrilled with her team’s composure after allowing the match-tying goal early in the second half.
“Instead of being daunted, we came back and scored two goals in one minute,” Smart said. “It’s a huge boost to our program’s confidence.”
It was the first conference test of the season for both teams, as each began league play with blowout wins over the struggling Mariner and Cascade programs. Jackson routed the two schools by a combined 16-0 margin and Kamiak (3-1, 2-1) cruised past them by a combined score of 11-0.
Jackson, which reached the 4A state quarterfinals last season, has outscored opponents by a combined 21-2 margin through its first four matches.
Edwards leads the Timberwolves with seven goals and Rich has a team-high six assists. Cheng has added three goals and four assists, while Heinrich and sophomore Hannah Thompson also have three goals apiece.
“I could talk about each one of our players,” Smart said. “They’re all really good.”