SHORELINE – Sumner High’s Abby Smith sat on the bench through a regulation period and two overtimes of scoreless soccer in the cold and rain.
Then she was asked to get warm. The Spartans needed her to send them to their first Class 2A state championship match in school history.
With Sumner ahead 4-3 in the shootout, Smith made a dive to the left, snagged a shot sent in by Squalicum’s Gracie Slater with her outstretched arms and was mobbed by her teammates in front of the goal.
Her save secured the top-ranked Spartans’ 1-0 victory over the Storm on Friday night at Shoreline Stadium and a chance for their first state title when they face Sehome today.
“There is nothing better than that,” Smith said about her teammates tackling her in front of the goal following her match-winning save. “It’s the best. No greater feeling.”
Smith came into the game after starting goalkeeper Jamie Lange held Squalicum scoreless through regulation and two overtimes. Sumner coach Robi Turley said she subbed Smith into the game because she had more shootout experience with her club team.
This was the first time the Spartans (21-0) have played past regulation this season.
“Abby is a lot quicker and she is smaller, which allows her to get off the line a little better,” Turley said. “So we told Jamie coming in that if it goes to a shootout, we are going with Abby.
“But for her to step in there, having not played in a few games, was really amazing.”
Sumner’s college-bound defensive force Sarah Carter was the first player to take her shot in the shootout, but it sailed over the crossbar. She said she had never before missed a PK.
Kaylie Rozell, Alyssa Murray and Brooke Lancaster kept the Spartans alive and Squalicum’s Lauren Wallace missed left to even the score at 3-3. Kelsie Colman put Sumner ahead 4-3 and Smith corralled the next shot to keep the Spartans’ record unblemished.
Carter was dominant on the defensive end the entire match. Though Turley said Carter was the Spartans’ player of the game, Carter was more concerned with her missed penalty kick.
“I was a little bit upset about the PK I missed, but I got my teammates,” Carter said. “It was the best feeling to go encourage (Abby) for going out there and saving my butt.”
Sumner had its best opportunity to score at about the 54th minute when Lancaster found Rozell for a header in front of the goal, but it bounced hard off the crossbar. Colman gathered the rebound and sent a shot that ricocheted directly off the right post before Squalicum cleared.
Other than that, it was Squalicum finding most of the scoring opportunities. The Storm recorded 18 shots, but none made it into the net as the Spartans earned their 17th shutout in their past 18 matches (18th overall).
“That’s because we had our best player back there in Sarah Carter,” Turley said of the senior sweeper, who will play at Gonzaga next season. “There is no one better to have at the helm of your team than her.”
Squalicum coach David Kish had little answer for her.
“The problem is you play the ball to her, she is going to win it every time,” Kish said. “Too often, that is what we played into.”
That stellar defense helped Sumner settle the unfinished business it came into this postseason gunning for. It reached the state playoffs each of the past four seasons, but never made it past the quarterfinals.
The Spartans accomplished that by defeating two-time defending champion Archbishop Murphy, 1-0, last Saturday to set up the semifinal with Squalicum. Now they get to a shot at a state title.
“I couldn’t be more excited for this opportunity,” Carter said. “I can’t wait for tomorrow and the chance to bring this school its first state championship.”
Sehome 4, West Valley (Yakima) 0: The Rams hadn’t surrendered a goal at the Class 2A state playoffs, but the Mariners changed that.
Emily Webster scored two goals and Sehome carved up the West Valley defense to earn its second trip to the state championship in three seasons.
Teya Mischaikov and Nikki Thon also scored and Hanna Tarleton recorded a pair of assists as the Mariners now look to claim their second state title after beating White River in 2010. They face Sumner at 4 p.m. today at Shoreline Stadium.
West Valley (Yakima) will play for third place at noon against Squalicum.