Young teams, in any sport, sometimes wander astray.
Coach Dani States certainly has a young squad in the girls’ soccer team at Gig Harbor High School. She only has four seniors.
But one of them happens to be Aubrey Lindberg, the rock at goalkeeper. And in those tense moments in the Class 4A West Central/Southwest bi-district championship match Saturday, she certainly put the team’s fortunes on her shoulders.
Severely outplayed in the second half, the Tides rode Lindberg’s 10 saves to a shootout. And that is where the two-time Narrows 4A champions flourished, defeating Camas, 1-0, at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Lindberg stopped the Papermakers’ first penalty-kick attempt, and Gig Harbor’s Elly Aronson, Kailyn Tovey, Lauren Hattaberg and Sarah Hashman strung together four consecutive shootout goals to propel the Tides to a 4-3 win.
As the WCD’s top seed, Gig Harbor (10-1) will host Issaquah in the first round of the 4A state championships Tuesday.
“The second half was definitely a frustration. They were pressuring us out of the backfield,” States said. “Aubrey was our savior.”
Camas (14-3) outshot the Tides, 10-1, in the second half. One of Lindberg’s best saves came on Riley Allison’s header inside the Gig Harbor penalty box in the 43rd minute.
A minute later, Rachel Wildeson unleashed a 15-foot shot for Camas that barely missed, instead clanking off the left post.
“The second half we had a couple of injuries, so we really had to adjust,” Lindberg said. “It was a lot more in their possession.”
The big blow for Camas came in the 77th minute when Wildeson was given a second yellow card, and ejected from the match. Not only did the Papermakers have to play a player down the rest of regulation and overtime, they also lost one of their best penalty-kick shooters.
“Losing her didn’t help,” Camas coach Roland Minder said. “It is what it is. You just move on from here.”
Then came the save of the day. In overtime, Camas’ Laura Gougeon rifled a high shot off the right post that appeared to be curling enough to go in for a goal. Lindberg lunged and nudged the ball away with her left hand to stop the scoring threat.
“I just slammed my whole body into it,” Lindberg said. “You know, I play fastpitch, and I love catching infield for work on my hand-eye coordination. Reading the ball is my strong suit … so when I bring that here, I almost play with linebacker eyes.”
Lindberg corralled Maddy Belzer’s low shot for the Papermakers in the first round of the shootout for a save, and her teammates did the rest of making most of theirs.
Columbia River 2, Auburn Mountainview 0: By now, when ninth grader Ellie Walker starts making hand signals while running up the field, her Chieftains’ teammates know exactly what she wants.
“It is like habit,” Walker said. “They’ve seen it before. They all come from club, so they know.”
Walker tallied both goals – her 10th and 11th of the season – in the first half, and Columbia River (17-0) won the district title at Mount Tahoma Stadium.
Walker blasted a 20-yard shot from the right side for the first score in the ninth minute. And she always seems to know where to position herself, too – as was the case on the final goal when she tapped in a deflected ball right in front of the Lions’ goal in the 27th minute.
“The first half I feel like we were executing well,” Columbia River coach Filomon Afenegus said. “We are a smaller team, so we have to be more technical and have a lot of the ball.”
Trailing 2-0, the Lions (16-3) best scoring chance came in the final seconds of the first half when the ball came to Josette Lake right on the left post, but her chip shot sailed over the net as time expired.