PUYALLUP — In a game where scoring chances were at a premium, it was going to take a moment of individual magic to find the breakthrough. Unfortunately for the Shorecret Scots, it was their opponents who found that magic.
Bellevue’s Mia Draper Kunz scored a breathtaking solo goal, and the Wolverines ended the Scots’ state-championship dreams with a 1-0 victory in the high school girls soccer Class 3A state semifinals on Friday at Sparks Stadium.
Top-seeded Bellevue used Draper Kunz’s goal and an airtight defense to remain perfect at 19-0-0.
“Our team played well at times, and then we just had young mistakes at times,” Shorecrest coach Mindy Dalziel said. “I think that comes from the fact that, yes, we have made a lot of state appearances, but it’s been a long time since my teams have gotten to the final four. This is a different experience, so you have to learn how to work through all of that. You make a mistake in a game like this against a good team like Bellevue, they’re going to put it away and that’s what they did.”
The Wolverines face No. 7 Roosevelt for the state title at 3 p.m. Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
Fourth-seeded Shorecrest (18-2-1), which was seeking its first state title since 1995 when it was a AAA school, plays No. 11 Seattle Prep for third place at 11 a.m. Saturday at Sparks Stadium — and the Scots aren’t letting Friday’s loss define their season.
“It’s been an amazing season,” Shorecrest junior Tayvi Khann, who was a tiger in midfield throughout the game, said. “I don’t think anyone thought we were going to make it this far, we lost eight starters from last year, eight seniors, so it’s just amazing what we’ve been able to accomplish with a lot of incoming sophomores stepping up. I’m very proud of this team.”
Friday’s game was played almost exclusively in midfield as neither team was able to generate much in the way of prime scoring opportunities. Between them Shorecrest and Bellevue managed just 13 shots, most of which came from distance and presented little threat.
But in the 26th minute Draper Kunz took it upon herself to create the decisive moment. The mercurial sophomore forward picked up the ball in midfield, looked up and saw open space, then stepped on the gas. She used her combination of blazing speed and close control to slice through the middle of the Shorecrest defense, and she finished it off by slotting a left-footed shot past Scots goalkeeper Tatiana Zahajko and just inside the right post to give the Wolverines a 1-0 lead.
“It was a well-finished shot,” Dalziel said. “We made a mistake and had to recover, but give Bellevue credit, they’re a good team.”
It was the first goal Shorecrest allowed this postseason, as the Scots had outscored their opponents 13-0 in their previous five playoff contests.
The Scots, who mustered just one shot in the first half, were more dangerous in the second half. But Shorecrest still found it tough going against an organized Bellevue defense, which was aided by the able screening work provided by holding midfielder Hinana Takashima.
“I feel like they just had a strong defense,” Khann said. “They’re fast, they’re good in the air, they’re physical. I think for us offensively it just wasn’t working. The long balls weren’t working for us today and we couldn’t really connect.”
Bellevue nearly grabbed the lead less the four minutes into the game when Lillian McAughan rolled a pass across the mouth of goal on the right, and Draper Kunz’s first-time shot from close range flew over. It proved to be one of the few clear-cut chances in the game.
After the second half began with Bellevue leading 1-0, both teams produced dangerous moments from free kicks. Shorecrest’s came first in the 42nd minute as Khann’s curler from 25 yards out was heading toward the top-left corner before it was knocked down by Bellevue goalie Amirah Hague. Then in the 50th minute the Wolverine’s Lily Colby hit a cross-shot from the left that came close enough to the post that Zahajko was forced to palm it away for a corner kick.
Shorecrest proceeded to outshoot Bellevue 6-4 in the second half, but almost all of those were from distance. Nora Patterson had a couple efforts that forced saves, but the Scots just couldn’t produce anything threatening.