Early in Gig Harbor’s West Central District III soccer matchup against Stadium High on Saturday night at Mount Tahoma High School, Gig Harbor senior Kaysie Bruce stood over a corner kick and surveyed the defense. She saw Stadium’s goalie a little out of position, leaving the back corner of the net open.
So she challenged the keeper, bending the kick toward the back post and hoping for the best. The shot curled straight into the net.
“If you see it’s open, you go for it,” Bruce said. “It’s a weak spot.”
The goal put the Tides up 1-0 early. Gig Harbor (17-0 overall) added four more goals in the second half: Leahi Manthei in the 41st minute; Chloe DiBisceglie in the 49th; Alyssa Gray in the 50th and Addie Larson in the 78th minute to give the top-seeded Tides a 5-0 win over Stadium and a berth in the Class 3A state tournament.
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With the loss, Stadium (8-5-3) was eliminated from the postseason.
Gig Harbor has been perfect this season under second-year coach Stephanie Cox, who has experience playing as a defender for the United States Women’s National Team.
“I think having the girls for a second year now, things are clicking from our goalkeeper to all the way up top,” Cox said. “I feel like we have a little more chemistry. I was proud of the girls. The first half wasn’t super clean. I felt like the second half, we settled in, the jitters went away and we really owned the second half.”
Tons of players have contributed in different ways for the Tides this season.
“Seeing underclassmen come in and have the same strength as the starters, it makes it that much better, just knowing we can trust everyone and rely on them as much as any other player,” Bruce said.
Cox knows the biggest challenge is only just beginning, with the state tournament looming for the undefeated Tides.
“I think for us just to stay strong and believe in how we want to play, the talent that we have,” she said. “Teams are going to get tougher. Games will get closer. We just have to believe we can will our way there.”