All but given up for dead 10 days earlier, Montesano’s young Bulldogs are now one win away from state.
With freshmen providing both goals and some key defensive plays, the Bulldogs blanked Hoquiam, 2-0, Monday night at Aberdeen’s Stewart Field in a playoff to determine the Evergreen 1A League’s final girls soccer district berth.
After their second victory, by identical scores, over the Grizzlies in the past five days, the Bulldogs (11-7) will face Trico League runner-up Woodland in a District IV Class 1A tournament contest scheduled for 6 tonight at Kalama. Tonight’s winner will clinch a state berth and play for third and fourth places on Thursday. The loser is eliminated.
Monday’s loss ended Hoquiam’s season at 9-8.
Montesano coach Jeff Lenherr had been pessimistic about his team’s prospects after consecutive losses to Rochester and Elma two weeks ago left the Bulldogs two games behind Hoquiam for the third and final postseason slot with three matches remaining. Hoquiam’s loss to Adna and Monte’s first conquest of the Grizzlies last week set up the playoff.
The Bulldogs, who have eight freshmen on their varsity roster, wound up peaking at the right time.
“I think the girls did a lot better job of transitioning and looking to attack instead of looking to defend,” Lenherr said. “I’ve got 5-8 freshmen on the field at one time. When they put it together, they’re a pretty good team.”
Frosh Mackenzi Howard and Tiana Schurr did the scoring last night, while freshman goalkeeper Kacie Kloempken came up with the match’s biggest save.
Midway through an evenly played first half, Hoquiam’s Ellie Quercia took a long free kick from Kayla Hillard and launched about a 10-yard shot from in front of the Bulldog net. Klompken, however, deflected it over the crossbar to preserve a scoreless tie.
It remained scoreless until the 37th minute. Then Howard gained possession of a free kick that had pinballed around in the penalty area and sent a shot into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
The Grizzlies had a couple of opportunities to equalize early in the second half but Monte’s defenders — particularly senior Ally McCaw and junior Rayna Ashlock — broke up most of the attacks before a shot could be launched.
Taylor Birdsall, still another Monte freshman, stole the ball from an HHS defender and was fouled in the box in the 67th minute.
Schurr directed the ensuing penalty kick past goalkeeper Jensina Alvarenga into the left-hand netting.
The Bulldogs controlled the ball for much of the final 10 minutes and only a nice save by Alvarenga on a LeeAnn Rhoden shot from close range in the 70th minute prevented further damage.
Hoquiam’s best scoring opportunity in the second half came in the 61st minute. Sandwiched between two defenders, Hilliard got off about 12-yard shot that went wide.
“Over the season, we’ve really grown a lot with (better) possessions, but we haven’t been able to the hit the back of the net,” HHS coach Corri Schmid said.
Hoquiam’s injury-riddled season concluded with sophomore midfielder Theresa Chapin being helped off the field early in the second half with a knee injury.
Schmid cited the performances of Alvarenga and Quercia. The latter had several promising runs into Monte territory, but was usually surrounded by three to four Bulldogs once she reached potential scoring position.
“The girls played hard,” the HHS coach concluded. “I can’t be disappointed with how hard they played.”
Lenherr cited his entire team for fine play.