E-W claims state berth

  • David Pan<br>Enterprise sports editor
  • Thursday, February 28, 2008 10:29am

What a two weeks it has been for the Edmonds-Woodway girls soccer team.

Last week, the Warriors celebrated their first league championship in school history and Wednesday night, Edmonds-Woodway defeated Oak Harbor 2-1 in a Northwest District 4A playoff game at Mount Vernon High School to secure its first-ever berth to the state playoffs .

Kayla Gaska scored in the 34th minute off a free kick and teammate Jessica Smith added a goal five minutes later.

“The second goal was just quick ball movement and switching to the opposite side of the field,” Edmonds-Woodway coach Bill LeCompte said.

Oak Harbor cut the lead to 2-1 with a goal early in the second half.

Edmonds-Woodway ended up adopting a defensive posture late in the game and had to weather a blistering offensive assault by the Wildcats, according to LeCompte.

“We just kind of held on towards the end,” he said.

Oak Harbor dominated play early on in the first half before Edmonds-Woodway rallied in the final 20 minutes.

“We started getting into the flow of the game,” LeCompte said. “The last 20 minutes we started to move the ball better … it was a half and half game. Oak Harbor had half the game and we had about half the game.”

The victory means the Warriors will host a first-round Class 4A state game next week and if they win that game, they also would host a second-round matchup. The date and time of the first-round game had not been determined as of The Enterprise’s deadline.

Edmonds-Woodway claimed its first-ever league championship with a 1-0 victory over Kamiak Oct. 30 at Kamiak High School.

Sophomore forward Alex Kirk scored the winning goal in the 68th minute in a game dominated by the Warriors, who outshot the Knights 20-1.

Junior midfielder Hayley Zevenbergen recorded the assist.

“She was looking for the opportunity to cross it,” LeCompte said. “There were three girls standing in the box real close to the goal … Alex volleyed it into the net.”

Despite going in with a scoreless tie at halftime, Kirk was confident Edmonds-Woodway would punch a goal through sooner rather than later.

“I was pretty sure one would go in,” Kirk said. “I knew that we would score. They played us pretty good.”

Kirk finished the regular season with a team-high 19 goals.

Edmonds-Woodway pounded away at Kamiak, according to LeCompte, who noted that many of his team’s first-half shots were from long range.

“Their goalkeeper did a good job,” he said. “She made excellent saves all night. As we got a bit more in tune on the field, we got better opportunities. We just wore them down and were able to capitalize on opportunities they weren’t ready for.”

Edmonds-Woodway (13-4 overall) tied with Jackson for the league title but the Warriors earned the No. 1 seed to districts by virtue of their 2-1 double overtime victory over Jackson earlier this month.

Senior co-captain Andi Zolton said that team unity has played a major role in Edmonds-Woodway’s success this season.

“We’ve gotten together a lot outside of practice,” she said. “I feel we’re a lot closer this year.”

Though Kirk leads the team in scoring, other players have contributed to the offense.

Instead of focusing the offense around one player as the Warriors have done in the past, this season more than one player has come through with key goals.

“We rely on everybody to do their job,” LeCompte said. “We’ve had some younger girls playing but they’re expected to play at the same level. The older girls are expected to perform as well.

“We’re very balanced in our attack. I think it’s made it more difficult to defend us.”

The other big difference LeCompte has noticed is a tougher mental approach to the game. In the past, Edmonds-Woodway has struggled against teams they perhaps should have beaten. The Warriors have had their struggles against Shorewood but this season, they beat the Thunderbirds.

“We’ve talked a lot more on the mental side of it, not allowing teams to basically dominate because of a mind set where in the past we’ve struggled,” LeCompte said.

The senior leadership also has stepped up and set the tone for the season. The seniors wanted to win the league title and set their sights early on securing a berth to the state tournament.

“The younger girls have accepted that and they have strived to help the seniors attain something,” LeCompte said. “They want to give themselves an opportunity to see what (the playoffs) are all about.”

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