All season, Skyline’s girls soccer coaches focused on preparing players to seize opportunity.
Friday night, it took all of 22 seconds for them to do just that, setting the tone with a quick strike.
The defending Class 4A state champions went on to earn a 2-1 win over Tahoma in the semifinals at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
“We wanted to crush Tahoma, but they’re too good to crush,” said Skyline coach Don Braman. “But getting that one (goal) early allowed us to do some other things. We are a team that will adapt and adjust to different situations.”
The undefeated Spartans will attempt to defend their title against Issaquah at 4 p.m. today. The Eagles beat Camas, 2-1, in overtime in the other semifinal.
Tahoma, which also entered the game without a loss, was rattled by the early goal and had a hard time recovering.
“I think it shook them up,” said Bears coach Jason Johnson. “When they got a goal that early, we were scrambling uphill.”
Skyline’s first goal came after the ball bounced off a defender’s torso and landed in front of sophomore midfielder Amanda Johnston, who pounced from about 10 yards out.
“I just saw a gap and knew the goalie was over there,” she said. “It was unreal.”
Tahoma tied the game in the 53rd minute when a cross from senior midfielder Brie Hooks to senior forward Kaysha Darcy slid into the back of the box from about 8 yards out.
But the Spartans came right back in the 65th minute, when senior defender Lianna Simms’ corner kick was cleared out and returned to her. She sent a cross into the box and junior midfielder Bianca Saint took care of the rest.
Braman said that his team expected a fight, especially after they shut out Tahoma 2-0 in the 2011 semifinals.
“These girls came together recognizing that the Tahoma Bears are a very fine soccer team,” he said. “Our girls played together, they followed the plan we wanted, and we kept with them.”
Johnson said he was especially disappointed for his seniors. The Bears finished third in 2011 and second the year before.
“They deserved a first,” he said. “Everything we’ve done this year, and everything about these kids … I’m heartbroken for them.”
Hooks said being in a deficit so early presented a challenge.
“We got scored on early, and they held the defense the rest of the game,” she said. “But it was a fight to the end.”
3A semifinals: Columbia River will play Mount Spokane for the 3A title at 2 p.m. today after beating Liberty, 2-1, in a shootout (5-4 on PKs).
Mount Spokane shut out Holy Names, 2-0.
Holy Names, which had an eight-game win streak snapped, will play Liberty at 10 a.m. for third and fourth places.