Gateway: Sports

Gig Harbor’s ‘Big 5’ strategy led to big things this season

Gig Harbor’s Kaysie Bruce scored directly off a corner kick against Stadium on Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School. The Tides won, 5-0, and advanced to the Class 3A state tournament.
Gig Harbor’s Kaysie Bruce scored directly off a corner kick against Stadium on Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School. The Tides won, 5-0, and advanced to the Class 3A state tournament. jbessex@gateline.com

I’ve covered a few Gig Harbor High girls soccer games this season.

I noticed a trend: The Tides score goals in quick succession. In a game earlier in the season against crosstown rival Peninsula, two Gig Harbor players scored two goals apiece within one minute of each other. Senior Bailey Werner scored goals in the 58th and 59th minutes, while senior Leahi Manthei scored goals in the 30th and 31st minutes of the game.

Initially, I wrote that off as a crazy coincidence. But then it happened again. In Gig Harbor’s 5-0 district win against Stadium on Friday, the Tides scored goals in the 41st minute, the 49th and the 50th.

Turns out, scoring goals in bunches is by design for the Tides. Gig Harbor coach Stephanie Cox talks to her players about the “Big 5.” It’s also known as the “5-Minute Rule.”

“If you look at the percentage of goals scored, most of them are five minutes after the start of the half or five minutes right before the half ends,” Cox said. “For some reason, the mental focus isn’t quite there.”

It also includes the five minutes after a goal is scored. So when Gig Harbor scores a goal, the Tides go after their opponents even harder.

“After goals, teams just kind of relax,” Cox said. “We want to take advantage of those mental lapses teams have and score quickly — bam-bam-bam. When other teams take a break mentally, we know we can take advantage of that.”

It’s a mentality that the players have embraced.

Senior Kaysie Bruce said the team saw the best evidence of the theory while down 3-0 against Central Kitsap. The Tides proceeded to rattle off four goals and win the game, 4-3.

“We just show up and play hard and attack, and get them off the balance,” Bruce said. “The quick goals happen that way.”

It’s worked up to this point for the Tides, who enter the state tournament with an undefeated record. And now we’ll see if the “Big 5” can lead to a big state title.

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