Goalkeeper Jaime Lange’s leadership put defending state champions Sumner back into the Class 2A title game after defeating West Valley of Yakima, 1-0, at Shoreline Stadium.
The Spartans (17-2-1) will play Bellingham for the state championship at 4 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium.
The game wasn’t as close as the score; Sumner’s defense never allowed the high-scoring 20-1 Rams’ offense to get comfortable.
For the game’s first 25 minutes, West Valley’s game plan of stretching the field with long passes took Sumner out of its comfort zone.
That’s when the Spartan’s standout goalkeeper Lange took charge.
“I told them to attack the ball on the bounce and air,” Lange said. “One of the things we really had to learn how to defend (this week) was the high balls coming in because they can blast from the 20-yardline. After a few friendly reminders, (our defenders) began attacking the ball in the air.”
Case in point: with five minutes left before the half, Lange barked at Spartan defender Alyssa Murray to jump on a ball in the air as Rams’ defender Leslie Irwin tried to clear the ball out of West Valley’s side.
Murray headed the ball back towards West Valley’s box, catching the Rams out of position.
After corralling a deflection, Brooke Lancaster fired a 16-yard rocket past goalkeeper Stephanie Gibson in the 55th minute to give Sumner a 1-0 lead.
“I saw (Murray) get it over and I knew it was my time to go,” Lancaster said. “The keeper started to come out so I laid it in the corner.”
Spartan coach Robi Turley was not surprised that the Spartan were able to make in-game adjustments; the SPSL champions have displayed that knack all season.
“Both Lange and Murray are very vocal out there and they stay organized...they’ve been here before,” she said “We’re a very well-rounded team...we don’t have any superstars but we get it done together. The motivation to get back to this point proves we’re a good program, not just individual players.”
Lange had three saves on the night while Murray blocked 3-of-5 shots by the Rams.
West Valley will play Squalicum for third place at noon at Shoreline Stadium.
Bellingham 2, Squalicum 1: Brooke Baker’s goal in the 75th minute gave the Red Raiders a 2-1 lead and helped Bellingham continue their improbable run towards the state championship.
In a heated contest in chilly conditions, Bellingham looked like the team playing in the semifinals for the second straight year rather than Squalicum.
The Red Raiders opened the game inspired. On their first drive, Mia Hodges scored an unassisted 7th-minute goal to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead. The Storm struck back off a cross from Lauren Gibb, who found Kim Dorr low in the box for a soft header to even the score at 1-apiece.
University Prep 2, La Salle 0: Behind goalkeeper Rebecca Hasle’s strong performance, the Pumas have reached the Class 1A championship for the second straight year after a 2-0 victory against the Lightning at Shoreline Stadium.
Kai Milici scored the game’s first goal in the 61st minute after forward Alissa Soo found her breaking towards the goal. Soo’s goal in the 80th minute sealed the University Prep’s victory. The shutout is Hasle’s ninth of the season.
King’s 2, Seattle Academy 1: Midfielders Sky Cornell and Beth Stella lifted the Knights into the Class 1A state championship for the first time in the team’s history after defeating the Cardinals at Shoreline Stadium.
Cornell put King’s on the board in the 55th minute and two minutes later Stella (57th minute) gave them a 2-0 lead. A goal by the Cardinals’ Sofia Barsher closed the gap to 2-1 but Knights’ goalkeeper Madeline Nielson (five saves) was able to hold on.
King’s will play Univeristy Prep for the championship at 2 p.m. Saturday at Shoreline Stadium and La Salle will play Seattle Academy for third place at 10 a.m.