SHORELINE — Eight times King’s girls soccer coach Nicole Gabelein has brought her Knights tantalizing close to earning their first state championship in program history.
That’s eight state semifinal appearances since 2006 — one fourth-place finish, five third-place finishes and two second-place finishes.
Those trophies are now window dressing for the grand centerpiece the 2017 Knights brought home Saturday.
Sticking true to King’s come-from-behind narrative this fall, the Knights overcame a late goal, equalized in the final 10 minutes and survived a thrilling 8-7 penalty kick shootout to earn a 2-1 (8-7 PK) 1A state championship win over Cascade (Leavenworth) on Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.
“This is a young group, and they worked hard for it, they trained for it,” Gabelein said. “It feels great. They compete about everything, and they brought that today.”
Katie Stella scored an equalizing goal in the 71st minute after Cascade took a 1-0 lead with a goal in the 62nd minute, King’s goalkeeper Grace Roberts made two crucial saves during the shootout and Knights freshman Annie Rasmussen clinched the state title with her game-winning penalty kick.
The win was the latest payback victory for King’s (15-8-0), which opened the season with a 5-2 non-conference loss to Cascade. During Friday’s semifinal contest, King’s beat Seattle Academy 2-0. Two weeks prior the Knights lost 4-1 in the 1A District 1/2 tournament title game to the Cardinals.
“I was expecting this type of a game if we were to see (Cascade) again,” Gabelein said. “I was happy to see (our players) here and show them we have come a long way. These players developed a lot. When you work with so many young players, they just go up. All of a sudden, ‘Boom, they just took off.’ ”
Of the 22 players listed on King’s state championship roster, 10 are freshmen. One of those, Rassmussen, never envisioned herself playing a role in King’s capturing its first state championship.
“I didn’t even expect to be on varsity at the beginning of the season,” she said. “I’m ecstatic.”
King’s, which played the majority of the game in Cascade’s half, found itself trailing 1-0 in the 62nd minute when Kodiaks forward Ashley Parton scored on a counter attack. Nine minutes later Stella struck a shot on a volley past Cascade keeper Devan Archer to tie the game at 1-1.
Neither team scored in either of the two five-minute overtime periods.
In the shootout, King’s and Cascade went back-and-forth after misses in the second and third rounds.
The Knights received goals from Callie Wright, Stella, Sarah Nielsen, Lauren Blair, Delaney Peterson, Taylor Faris and Meg Travis. Roberts dove to her left and blocked Cascade’s ninth attempt, setting up Rasmussen for a pressure-packed, title-winning kick.
“Honestly, I was thinking we were going to come back and win,” Gabelein said. “We call (ourselves) the cardiac team, because they’ll be down 2-0 with eight minutes left, and we’ve won those games. They have given my heart a workout all season long.”