On the surface, the Sumner girls soccer team would say there was no pressure going into the 3A West Central/Southwest bi-district final.
But according to coach Robi Turley, the Spartans wanted to finish at the top, which they did with a 2-0 shutout of Prairie.
“We already are in state,” Turley said. “Obviously this game is going to get us a better seeding, but we would rather have a win going into state than a loss.”
The Spartans had the advantage over the Falcons before the match began, as it was played in their home stadium, allowing the players to get a full rest before the match.
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Within the first minute of the match, Sumner’s Madison Gustafson was fed the ball from Sam Larberg on the far right corner of the field.
From there, the sophomore midfielder fought her way through several Falcons defenders to score the match’s first goal and a 1-0 lead before most people settled in their seats.
“Sam had a good touch and the ball bounced (perfectly),” said Gustafson. “It is always a great feeling to get a touch around a defender, get a goal off of it and have everyone run up to you.”
Once both teams reset, defense became the name of the game as a quick adjustment by the Falcons made every Spartans player on the field work harder to even move the ball downfield.
“They changed their formation, (something that) I was not expecting,” said Turley. “We had a hard time adjusting because we didn’t think that they were going to change.”
While shots on goal were not as forthcoming with the strong defenses, shots on the players were plentiful as both teams played with a physical nature.
“I think we feed really well off of physicality,” said junior defender Jordan Thompson. “We try to play as a composed team but we also try to matchup with the other team, so if they hit us, we’ll hit them back.”
Plenty of pushing and shoving went on as the game went into halftime, and even more so as the teams came back from break.
In the 64th minute, the Spartans’ Jaylin Borden found Larberg breaking away down the sidelines and fed her the ball. Dribbling past defenders and making some back and forth moves, Larberg netted the final goal of the match to give the Spartans their 2-0 lead.
Once again, defense played the biggest role of the night as the Falcons had an opportunity to score on a penalty kick five minutes later. The shot was deflected by a diving Madison Hanenburg to preserve Sumner’s 2-0 win.
“Next, we buckle down and take each game day by day,” Thompson said. “It is time to focus on our next match, clean it up, rest our bodies and get ready to battle it out next week.”
The Spartans will face off against the winner of Stanwood and Marysville-Pilchuck in the first round of the state playoffs.
Gig Harbor 2, Puyallup 1: Kiana Garcia and Leahi Manthei each netted a goal in order to help the Tides roll past the Vikings and earned their way into the state tournament as the third seed from District 3.
Bellarmine 2, Kentridge 0: The Lions were led by goals from Mallory Price in the 40th minute and Taylor Montgomery in the 67th to punch their ticket to the state playoffs.
Auburn Riverside 1, Wilson 0 (OT): In a thrilling battle that took penalty kicks to decide, Izzy Creighton’s trumping goal was the one to send the Ravens to the state tournament and the Rams home.
Central Kitsap 1, Kennedy Catholic 0: A free kick from Taylor Moes in the 60th minute was all that separated the Cougars and the Lancers in the match as the Cougars earned their trip to the state tournament.
Columbia River 4, Enumclaw 0: Ellie Walker scored a hat trick for the Chieftains on the day, helping them earn a berth in the state tournament.
Liberty 3, North Kitsap 1: Three first half goals from the Patriots made climbing out of that hole for the Vikings nearly impossible. Cameron Nelson scored the first two goals at the seventh and 17th minute with Jordan Hemmen chipping in a goal in the 28th minute for Liberty. Briann George scored off a penalty kick in the 77th minute to avoid the shutout.
Steilacoom 2, White River 1: Tori Crawford and Taylar LaRue each scored a goal that ensured the Sentinels’ berth in the state playoffs.
Fife 2, Sammamish 1 (OT): Katelyn Evans’ goal in the sixth minute gave the Trojans an early lead, but the Totems tied the game up forcing penalty kicks. The combined effort from Bella Robertson, Samantha Steffensen, Brooke Taylor and Alaina Valenciano all helped Fife back into the state playoffs.