Two early goals get Everett to title game

MOUNT VERNON — In playoff soccer, where penalty kicks and mere inches can often make the difference, how a team responds to the pressure can often determine the outcome.

Sure, Everett entered Tuesday’s 3A District 1 semifinal with a 13-4 record, while Meadowdale was 8-8-1. But the most important factor may have been the experience the Seagulls gained during last season’s run to the state quarterfinals.

“We know what’s on the line — we know what’s at stake,” Everett midfielder Alysia Letourneau said.

And the playoff-seasoned Seagulls got two early goals from Letourneau against a Meadowdale team that came out looking tentative, and made it stand up in a 2-1 victory that pits them against Sedro-Woolley in the district championship game Thursday.

Everett dominated the early portion of the match with crisp passing and ball control to put the Mavericks back on their heels.

The Seagulls struck first in the sixth minute. Everett played the ball to midfielder Mackenzie Rochon in the right corner. Rochon’s cross found Letourneau, who out jumped a Meadowdale defender and headed the ball past the Mavericks’ keeper for a 1-0 Everett lead.

Letourneau made it 2-0 10 minutes later. Defender Valerie Stahl won the ball 20 yards from the goal and played the ball through to Letourneau who put it into the upper right corner of the net.

“In the first 20 minutes I would’ve thought we’d run away with (the game),” Everett coach Kosta Pitharoulis said. “Our speed of play was off the charts and we were really getting at them … (Meadowdale) hunkered down and they picked up their play and I think we kind of let down having scored so early.”

Behind 2-0, the Mavericks came alive. After looking very unsure of itself through the first 20 minutes, Meadowdale began challenging Everett and winning more possessions.

The Mavericks finally found the goal in the 27th minute. Forward Ashley Correa corralled a short punt from Everett goalkeeper Emily Nesting, took two dribbles, and launched a 25-yard shot past Nesting into the left corner to make it 2-1.

“I think we were just nervous,” Meadowdale coach Sean Griffin said about his team’s early play. “But once we got (over our) nervousness, we started putting the pressure on.”

The second half turned into a physical defensive battle, as the referee issued one yellow card and several plays left fans clamoring for more.

Each team had several opportunities. Everett defender Annie Sittauer’s shot from well outside the penalty box struck the crossbar in the 46th minute.

Meadowdale nearly tied the contest with two minutes left in regulation. Nesting, seeking to grab a loose ball in front of the goal, bobbled it and collided with Meadowdale forward Kaeli Eberth. The ball bounced away, and so did the Mavericks’ last chance to tie.

“Our team was playing pretty decent and we’re learning more and more what it’s going to take,” Griffin said. “Instead of being down and depressed, we’re excited. Yeah, it’s gonna be a longer, harder road now, but I think we can still (qualify for state). I think the girls are ready for that.”

Meadowdale plays Arlington, a 1-0 loser to Sedro-Woolley in the other semifinal, in a loser-out consolation game at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. Everett takes on Sedro-Woolley at 7:30 p.m. Thursday for the district championship and an automatic berth to the state tournament. Both games will be played at Mount Vernon High School.

“It wasn’t pretty, but it was effective and ultimately we’re here for the result at this point,” Pitharoulis said.

At Mount Vernon High School

Goals—Everett: Letourneau 2. Meadowdale: Correa. Assists—Everett: Rochon, Stahl. Goalkeepers—Everett: Nesting. Meadowdale: Zickfoose. Records—Everett 14-4 overall. Meadowdale 8-9-1.

Sedro-Woolley 1, Arlington 0: Mackenzie Shipley scored the lone goal in the 49th minute. After a scoreless first half, Shipley secured the ball just outside the penalty box and dragged a shot past Arlington goalkeeper Chelsea Boulton inside the far right post to give the Cubs the winning margin.

“It was pretty frustrating,” Arlington coach Nathan Davis said. “We had more skill, but sometimes in soccer, that doesn’t mean more wins or more goals.”

The Eagles play Meadowdale at 5:30 p.m. Thursday. The winner advances to play the loser of the Everett-Sedro-Woolley game for the district’s second berth into the state tournament.

At Mount Vernon High School

Goals—Sedro-Woolley: Shipley. Goalkeepers—Sedro-Wolley: Sprague. Arlington: Boulton. Records—Sedro-Woolley 10-7-0 overall. Arlington 3-13-2.

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