ELMA — Faced with a rare deficit against its arch-rival, Evergreen 1A League girls soccer titlist Elma responded in championship fashion.
Brooke Goldsmith scored four of her team’s five unanswered goals in the final 46 minutes as the Eagles rallied past Montesano, 5-2, Saturday afternoon at Davis Field.
Already assured of the league title, the Eagles (14-1) completed a season sweep of the Bulldogs (8-7, 9-7).
This victory, however, wasn’t as easy as the final score sounded. The Bulldogs owned a 2-0 lead late in the first half — only the second time this season that the Eagles have trailed.
“We have a tendency to come out slow in the beginning and you can throw out the records in a Montesano-Elma game,” Eagle coach Chris Schumacher summarized.
Goldsmith got one back in the 34th minute, connecting on a close-range shot after the Bulldogs failed to clear a Natalie Grant throw-in.
The Eagles, who had enjoyed a modest advantage in shots on target (11-7) in the first half, picked up the level of their play to dominate the second half.
Elma caught a break to tie it. Sydney Smythe’s crossing pass from the right wing bounced off the head of a Monte defender and caromed into the net for an own goal with the second half about 10 minutes old.
Six minutes later, Goldsmith took a long pass from Madison Newberry and tucked a shot into the lower left-hand corner to put the Eagles in front to stay.
Taking a pass from Hannah Heelan, Smythe set up Goldsmith for another goal with a perfect cross in the 61st minute. Goldsmith closed out the scoring in the 74th minute by splitting the defense and converting despite being knocked to the turf.
Bulldog goalkeeper Kasie Kloempken, who played splendidly throughout, prevented further damage by first denying Goldsmith and then smothering Stacia Burbidge’s rebound attempt from point-blank range in the late going.
Schumacher drew nothing but positives from this experience.
“I think it was good for us,” the Elma coach said. “They had to learn a little humbleness, dig deep instead of dominating. We had to come from behind and it will be a confidence-builder for us going into state.”
“We’re a little thin with injuries,” Montesano coach Jeff Lenherr noted, “so fatigue sort of set in.”
The Bulldogs, who have experienced frustration attempting to convert their scoring opportunities this season, had no such difficulties in the first half yesterday. They were able to combat Elma’s superior speed with possession soccer and fine defense in the opening 40 minutes.
Taking a long pass from classmate Brooke Whitesell, Mackenzi Howard opened the scoring by finding the upper right corner of the net from about 10 yards out in the 25th minute.
Elaine Denholm, a third Monte freshman, made it 2-0 five minutes later. Alyx Miller’s free kick bounced around and came back to Denholm, who lofted a mid-range shot over goalkeeper Maci Shumate.
With customary starter Alyssa Sutherby nursing a strained neck, Shumate went the distance between the pipes and was cited by Schumacher for fine play. The Elma coach also praised the work of Goldsmith, Smythe (who played her first full game since recovering from a quadricep injury) and Emily Kershaw.
Lenherr cited his entire team for a good showing.
Kershaw, Taylor Wilson, Paige Valois and Makayla Ridenour were honored during Elma’s Senior Day ceremonies.
Montesano took the JV match, 3-0.
Both teams will close out league play on Thursday, with Montesano hosting Hoquiam and Elma making the long journey to Forks.