Sometimes, coaches and players just have to tip their cap to their opponent. That was the case for the Gig Harbor High soccer team against Bellarmine Prep last week. An improbable goal, stout defense and stellar goalkeeping by the Lions helped Bellarmine hand Gig Harbor its first league loss of the season in the Class 4A Narrows League.
Bellarmine (8-2-2, 7-1-2 Narrows 4A) freshman Ashley Price lofted an improbable shot from the left sideline into the top right corner of the Gig Harbor goal on Thursday night with 13 minutes to play, providing the game’s only score.
“I just got the ball dropped back to me, saw the top right corner of the goal and took a shot,” Price said.
No, it wasn’t a cross that happened to float into the goal by accident.
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“It was a shot,” Price said with a laugh.
Bellarmine coach Joe Waters is getting used to these types of goals from his confident freshman.
“Actually, she did the same thing in the game (Oct. 20) against Olympia,” Waters said. “She scored two goals in about a minute. One was from the exact same position — same trajectory, same spot. She’s great.”
Gig Harbor’s keeper was able to get her hands on the ball, but couldn’t reign it in.
“Fortunately, (our keeper) didn’t have to make to make too many saves during the game,” Gig Harbor coach Stephanie Cox said. “So it’s just about staying focused. I don’t know if the ball got caught in the lights or something. Fluky stuff happens sometimes and you’ve just got to be ready to bounce back. We had our chances to score earlier to not put her in that position.”
Bellarmine’s defense bent, but it never broke. The back line, anchored by senior center back Emily Nelson, stifled Gig Harbor’s attack. The one time the defense was caught off guard on a Gig Harbor counter attack, Tides’ senior Leahi Manthei laid the ball off for junior Kaysie Bruce, but Bellarmine keeper Isabelle Davis — another freshman — came up with a big save.
“Their goalkeeper played a great game,” Cox said. “Credit to them, they played a great game. Bellarmine is a really physical team. I think it was a hard fought battle.”
The final result didn’t matter much — Gig Harbor (11-3-1, 10-1-0) had already clinched the Class 4A Narrows League title before the game had started.
Cox said the team is playing well and just needs to make a few small improvements heading into the playoffs.
“Just little things,” Cox said. “I think in the second half when we weren’t winning our goal kicks, that put our back line under a lot of pressure. So, just continuing to win air balls. When we did win them in the first half, it kind of keeps the team pinned in. I think we just need to have a little more balance in our attack. They kind of had a deep sweeper a little bit, we didn’t play against that very well. Being able to play in front of a team and then in behind a back line, too.”
Gig Harbor’s West Central District tournament opponent has yet to be determined. The Tides will play at 1 p.m. Nov. 7 at Mount Tahoma High School. The winner will get the No. 3 seed to the state tournament, while the loser will get the No. 4 seed.