Shorecrest’s Esmerelda Fogg sends a ball away while being pressured against Shorewood on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Shorecrest’s Esmerelda Fogg sends a ball away while being pressured against Shorewood on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022, at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Shorecrest draws with Shorewood, clinches Wesco 3A/2A soccer title

Taylor Christensen nets a 2nd-half equalizer and the Scots earn a hard-fought 1-1 draw to secure the league crown.

SHORELINE — A rebuilding year?

So much for that.

Despite graduating the majority of its starting lineup from last season, the Shorecrest High School girls soccer team wasn’t about to take a step back.

Instead, these youth-laden Scots are league champs.

Taylor Christensen scored on a 64th-minute equalizer and Shorecrest clinched the Wesco 3A/2A title with a 1-1 draw against crosstown rival Shorewood in a high-stakes regular-season finale Monday night at Shoreline Stadium.

“I went into this season thinking it was gonna be a rebuilding year, because I graduated eight (seniors) and they were all starters for the most part,” Scots coach Mindy Dalziel said. “And this team, they’ve never even viewed it that way.

“It’s a pretty amazing feeling to do what we’ve done. … I’m super proud of them.”

Both teams entered Monday’s crosstown rivalry with a chance at the Wesco 3A/2A crown. Shorecrest had the clearer path, needing just a win or draw to secure the 16-team league title.

The Scots (13-1-1, 12-1-1 Wesco 3A/2A) fell behind in the opening minute of the second half, when talented Shorewood freshman Diana Tuilevuka launched a brilliant deep shot that soared just over the goalkeeper’s head and into the net for a 1-0 Stormrays lead.

But later in the second half, Christensen netted a similarly spectacular goal.

From the right side of the pitch near midfield, Shorecrest senior defender Giulia Menning sent a pass into the middle. The ball got deflected to the left and rolled straight to Christensen, who was open atop the 18-yard box.

Christensen, a junior forward, calmly waited for the ball to reach her before striking a perfectly placed one-timer. She sent the ball arcing just over the goalkeeper’s outstretched arms and into the back of the net for a massive equalizer.

“That was an impressive goal,” Dalziel said. “… She’s money if you give her that time and space.”

After that, Shorecrest held on through regulation and a pair of tense five-minute overtime periods to prevail for a title-clinching draw.

When the final whistle sounded, the Scots hugged each other and formed a celebratory dogpile on the field. Later on, they dumped a bucket of water on their coach.

“It’s honestly breathtaking, because in all my four years (here), I’ve never experienced a moment like this,” Menning said. “And being a senior on this team, I could never feel more lucky.”

The margin between the Shoreline rivals was razor-thin in Monday’s clash, with both teams hitting a shot off the goal frame.

Tuilevuka, who had several dangerous scoring chances in addition to her goal, fired a grounder that bounced off the left post in the sixth minute. And in the second overtime period, Shorecrest junior Tayvi Khann launched a deep shot that struck the crossbar.

In the end, the match went down as a draw. But for the Scots, it felt like the sweetest of victories.

“For us to work together and be able to win the title against our rivals is just huge for us as a team,” Christensen said.

With the draw, Shorecrest finished atop the Wesco 3A/2A standings with 37 points. Shorewood (11-1-2, 11-1-2) finished with 35 points.

Defending league champion Archbishop Murphy (11-2-1, 11-1-1) currently is in third place with 34 points, but still has one match left. The Wildcats can move up to 37 points if they beat winless Lynnwood in their regular-season finale Tuesday.

However, even if Archbishop Murphy wins, the Scots hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of a 2-1 victory over the Wildcats on Sept. 15.

For Shorecrest, that early-season triumph over the defending Class 2A state champions was a major turning point.

“That was kind of like our ‘We belong here,’” Dalziel said. “That was where we believed that (atop the league) is where we belong.”

The Scots have compiled a 49-5 goal differential this fall, while leaning on their strong defense and goalkeeping. They’ve posted 10 shutouts in 15 matches and haven’t allowed multiple goals in a match all season.

“Our back line is very solid,” Dalziel said. “(They) shut people down, they’re patient, they’re calm under pressure and they don’t get rattled.”

And in the net, junior goalkeeper Tatiana Zahajko has been a steady presence for Shorecrest. She made some big saves Monday, including a diving stop on one of Tuilevuka’s shots.

“Tati comes up big,” Dalziel said. “She’s a gamer. … She makes those saves and doesn’t get rattled. She’s just calm and collected.”

The Scots feature a balanced attack, with 10 different players having scored this season. Six players have at least three goals and four have at least six goals.

Senior forward Ava Jensen has netted a team-high 12 goals. Fellow senior forward Nora Patterson has added nine, followed by sophomore midfielder Cambria Metcalf-Lindenburger with seven and Christensen with six.

“Each night, it’s been somebody different for our team that has scored that goal that has kept us going,” Dalziel said. “… It’s spread the wealth really well.”

Next up for both teams is the 3A District 1 Tournament, which begins later this week. Shorecrest will be the top seed, while Shorewood will be the No. 2 seed. The top three finishers advance to the 3A state tournament.

Both teams are seeking repeat trips to state. Shorewood advanced to the 3A state quarterfinals last year, while Shorecrest made an underdog run to state after entering district as the No. 8 seed.

This time, the Scots head to district as the favorites.

“I am so excited,” Christensen said. “… Going in as the (top) seed, it’s really exciting for us.”

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