Last year, when the big WIAA soccer-ball trophy was presented to Sumner High School’s girls soccer team for winning the Class 2A state championship, it drew a lot of uncertain stares.
A few girls patted it. Most were just too awe-struck to react to its imposing presence.
Fast forward one year, on a chilly Saturday night at Shoreline Stadium, the Spartans were much more celebratory after defending their 2A crown with a 2-0 victory over Bellingham.
Each player hoisted the big trophy over her head, posing. Some hugged it. Others even danced with it.
“Last year it was a big surprise because we had never won state,” Sumner midfielder Brooke Lancaster said. “It was like, ‘It is a big trophy. What are we supposed to do with it?’ Now we are taking pictures with it.”
They certainly deserved to, becoming just the second back-to-back 2A state champions. SPSL 2A rival Fife won in 2007-08.
“It is much harder to go back and defend the state title than to go win the first one,” Sumner coach Robi Turley said. “The girls did a great job of coming together as a team.”
The Spartans (18-2-1) seem to have a winning combination: patiently work for scoring opportunities up front behind the nifty-footed Lancaster, and shut down opposing attacks with a defense that doesn’t give up anything.
Sumner posted shutouts over Black Hills (6-0), Lake Washington (1-0), West Valley of Yakima (1-0) and finally the Red Raiders (2-0) in these state playoffs.
Yet, it wasn’t easy, at least in the early going against an opponent few figured to be in this position. Bellingham (12-7-5) finished seventh in the Northwest 3A-2A-
1A Conference and barely got into the district tournament.
But the Red Raiders’ overall physicality prevailed in the postseason, even earning them a 2-1 semifinal victory over crosstown rival and conference champion Squalicum on Friday.
They owned the first 25 minutes of action Saturday, outgunning Sumner in shots (4-1) and corner kicks (4-1).
“For us, we slayed the dragon in beating our crosstown rival last night to get here, and it felt like we were riding that emotion in a positive way,” Bellingham coach Mark Wright said. “And when they got the goal, the air fizzled out.”
Sumner’s first goal changed everything.
Ellie DeGoede finally got a little daylight and charged up the right sideline. She sent in a cross to the middle of the field. Kinsey Saiz got there first for the Spartans and sent a 15-yard blast into the left side of the goal in the 25th minute.
“The first goal always has a lot to do with everything,” Lancaster said. “The first 25 minutes, we were very slow. But after that goal, everyone thought, ‘Hey, we are in it to win it, and we have to keep it up.’ ”
Up 1-0, the Spartans became … well, the Spartans. Their superior foot speed and on-ball skill came to light.
And the lead grew to 2-0 when Lancaster and Jordan Thompson fed off each other in a give-and-go-play. After Lancaster redirected the ball back to the ninth-grader on the left side, Thompson unleashed a 25-yard bullet that found the upper right corner in the 49th minute.
Much of the second half became Sumner target practice. The Spartans had six of their 11 shots on goal in the final 15 minutes.
Jamie Lange got the shutout in goal, her ninth of the season.
“We don’t have any opponents that we face that are as physical as they are,” Turley said. “That was the key, to match their physicality and win those 50-50 balls.”
Todd Milles: 253-597-8442