LAKE STEVENS — The Jackson and Lake Stevens girls soccer teams met Tuesday night with a chance to take over sole possession of first place in Wesco 4A, but 90-plus minutes of scoreless play left both teams right where they started before the opening whistle — tied for first after a 0-0 draw after two overtime periods.
Both teams had to turn to backup goalies, lost players to injury and had their chances to take control, but neither of the evenly matched foes found a way to take over in a physical defensive battle between squads unbeaten in league play.
The Vikings (7-1-1 overall, 6-0-1 Wesco 4A) controlled the ball for most of the first half, but couldn’t capitalize after applying pressure to Jackson’s backup goalkeeper Brooke VanderMolen. The Timberwolves’ senior entered the game after starter Ashlyn Cheng suffered a leg injury just three minutes into the contest.
VanderMolen and the Timberwolves’ defense weathered the storm as the Vikings failed to capitalize on few good scoring chances as soon as the converted forward entered the game.
Lake Stevens’ best look at the goal came in the 22nd minute when Amber Elliano delivered a well-placed cross to Christina Springer for a header right in front of the goal, but VanderMolen had it played perfectly and got in front of Springer’s shot to make a nice save.
Jackson (8-0-2, 6-0-1) took control in the second half and went on a one-man advantage after Vikings goalkeeper Tayla Peterson was given a red card for taking down Timberwolves forward Kathryn Cheng with a slide tackle just in front of the 18-yard box on a breakaway, thwarting one of the Timberwolves’ best scoring chances in regulation.
“It was the right move on her part and the right call by the ref,” Vikings coach Prato Barone said.
Delaine Polly came in to relieve Peterson and was tested right away, making a game-saving stop on a dive to her left in the 74th minute.
Polly continued to make big plays for Lake Stevens in overtime. With Jackson looking to end the game with just minutes to play in the second and final overtime, Polly made a clutch save on a Timberwolves’ shot from inside the box and then recovered to make an even more impressive save off the rebound to help the short-handed Vikings escape with a tie.
“If you’re going to look at almost a heroic effort in the game, somebody who’s not in the flow, not in the sweat to come up and react like that, that was huge,” Barone said of his backup’s performance.
Delaine Polly, Lake Stevens:
Polly, a sophomore goalkeeper, came in off the bench late to help the Vikings maintain their shutout and hold on for a tie. Polly recorded five saves, including a couple of game-savers at the end of regulation and in overtime.
Tayla Peterson, Lake Stevens:
Peterson, a freshman goalkeeper, left the game late after being awarded a red card, but her decision to come out of the box and stop Jackson’s Kathryn Cheng on a breakaway may have saved the game for Lake Stevens. Peterson had a solid night before the foul occurred, notching seven saves.
Brooke VanderMolen, Jackson:
VanderMolen, a senior, came in off the bench early and helped Jackson shut out Lake Stevens in just her second appearance ever as a goalkeeper for the Timberwolves. The converted forward had nine saves.
“When you ask anyone to play goalkeeper, they’re intimidated,” Timberwolves coach Sarah Smart said. “She’s not intimidated by anything. It didn’t seem like she had any nerves. She just went in there and played with a heart of steel and was phenomenal for us. … Maybe she should play goalkeeper more often. She did a really great job.”
The Timberwolves came into the game short-handed on the backline with junior defender Maidlyn Rude out after suffering an injury in Jackson’s 4-1 win over Kamiak last Thursday. Starters Bonnie Martin, Hannah Thompson, Ellie Friedrichsen and company put forth a strong effort after losing their starting keeper, shutting out a Vikings squad that averaged 3.67 goals per game in Wesco 4A play coming in.
A game that could’ve put either team in the driver’s seat to win a conference championship ended with both teams stuck in neutral. Jackson and Lake Stevens remained unbeaten in conference play, but the tie keeps the team’s knotted atop the conference standings. An Oct. 25 rematch at Everett Memorial Stadium could end up being the de facto conference championship game if both teams can repeat their success from the first half of the season.
“Hopefully we can all hold tight and we’ll see Jackson at the end and it will all roll down to one big game,” Barone said.
Lake Stevens recorded its seventh straight shutout to start Wesco 4A play. The Vikings have outscored conference foes 22-0 in those seven games.
Ashlyn Cheng was left the field after she injured her leg coming up to make a save on a Lake Stevens scoring chance just three minutes into the game. She did not return and backup VanderMolen finished the game in front of the net for Jackson.
The Vikings also lost a key player during the game. Midfielder Ella Hove left the game with a separated shoulder that Barone said altered the team’s game plan quite a bit.