Meadowdale wins showdown

EVERETT — Jackson and Meadowdale have shown their strength early in the girls high school soccer season, and Tuesday night’s non-conference game was a chance to see how they measure up with each other.

The difference was the width of the goalpost.

Meadowdale scored twice in the first half, then withstood constant pressure from Jackson in the second half to win 2-1 at Everett Memorial Stadium.

Julia Fjortoft and Kaeli Eberth scored goals within eight minutes of each other for Meadowdale (6-1-0). Brianna Ellis scored about 16 minutes into the second half for Jackson, which hit the crossbar with a shot in the first half and the post early in the second half. Jackson is 5-1-1.

Games that count in the Western Conference South standings will begin Thursday.

“A lot of teams don’t know what to think of us yet,” Meadowdale coach Chris Baldwin said. “We’re a very young team and I think we’re catching other teams off guard.”

That may have been the case early in Tuesday’s game.

The teams played a tight defensive struggle in the first 20 minutes before Meadowdale stepped up its pressure.

Fjortoft narrowly missed the net with a shot about 18 minutes into the game, but didn’t miss less than three minutes later.

She took a pass from Maddi Null down the left side, cut toward the goal and quickly got off a low shot to the near corner. Jackson goalkeeper Kayla Beer nearly made a spectacular save, but the ball bounced off her foot and into the net for a 1-0 Meadowdale lead.

Eight minutes later, the Mavericks scored again when Eberth controlled the ball, used her speed to break free down the right side, then kicked a hard, low shot into the far side of the net.

Beer made a leaping save on a 35-yard shot by Meadowdale’s Hannah Landerholm 33 minutes into the first half to keep it a two-goal game.

Jackson turned up its intensity, just missing two quality chances in the final five minutes of the first half, and kept up the pressure throughout the final 40 minutes.

Eight minutes into the second half, Megan Bolmes unleashed a hard shot that banged off the near goalpost. Seven minutes later, the Timberwolves found the net.

Ellis took a long pass from Katie Reese and flicked the ball into the net for Jackson’s first goal.

The Timberwolves had numerous chances in the final 20 minutes but were turned away by Meadowdale goalkeeper Tanya Zickefoose.

At 21:39 into the second half, Taylor Hutchens stole the ball for Jackson and took a hard shot that Zickefoose stopped with a high leap at the near post.

A minute later, Cara Wegner used her quickness not only to weave past two defenders near the goal mouth, but also get up after she’d lost her footing before getting off a shot from point-blank range.

Zickefoose made that save, then controlled the ball in a crowd on two corner kicks a short time later.

“Meadowdale has a really good team. We knew it would be a tight game,” Jackson coach Mike Bartley said. “I was really happy with the second half. We dominated that. The first half, we just showed up. We didn’t play.”

Jackson played without midfielder Denae Fitz, who underwent an emergency appendectomy Tuesday morning.

Baldwin said his Meadowdale team, which has just two seniors, learned a lot about itself, especially in the second half when Jackson made its comeback.

“We have a very quality team and we play well together,” he said. “We’re very tight-knit off the field as well as on the field.

“We did hold on, but I always coach not to sit back. Go at them just as aggressively as you did in the first half. If you sit back, that’s when they’re going to take advantage. Our game plan was to keep the pressure on them, let them make the mistakes and let the ball come to us. It was really (a matter of) playing solid finesse and fundamental ball. Mistakes will happen, but learn from them and step up and get to the ball first.”

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