Howard’s late goal pushes Montesano into state 1A berth, 1-0 over Woodland

KALAMA — It took a while for Montesano to shake off the effects of playing two girls soccer matches in two days, but it did.

Relying on their defense to keep Woodland at bay, the Bulldogs got a goal with 11 minutes left in the match and survived for a 1-0 victory in a District IV 1A winner-to-state, loser-out match at Kalama.

Mackenzi Howard scored the match-winner in the 70th minute for Montesano (12-7), which will take on Rochester in a third-fourth place state seeding match on Thursday. The Warriors knocked off King’s Way Christian, 2-1, in the other winner-to-state match.

Already assured of state berths, Elma and La Center will clash for the district title at 7 p.m. Thursday at Kalama.

On Monday, Montesano needed a playoff match victory over Hoquiam, a 2-0 decision, to get into the district tournament. Less than 24 hours later, the Bulldogs were running up and down the Kalama turf with a fresh and energetic Woodland squad.

“You could tell that we didn’t have the legs,” Montesano head coach Jeff Lenherr said. “We’ve played a lot of games over the last 10 days. The defense did a great job.”

Monte defenders forced the Beavers into tough-angled shots to protect goalkeeper Kacie Kloempken. Woodland outshot Monte, 6-1, in the first half, but the match was scoreless at halftime.

“You could see their conditioning coming back in the second half,” Lenherr said. “It was humid there and maybe the rain actually helped the girls out. It was downpouring. Once it started raining, it was like it cooled them down and gave them a boost.”

In the 70th minute, Mackinzie Malizia collected the ball 30 yards from goal and sent a through ball to a charging Howard. On a tough angle, Howard went for a near-post shot and hit it hard enough to hit off the Woodland goalkeeper’s legs and go in.

Recharged and with the lead, the Bulldogs pressed their advantage and the Beavers never challenged the lead.