It was senior night for the Gig Harbor Tides girls soccer team on Thursday, Oct. 18 at Roy Anderson Field against the visiting Capital Cougars.
So it’s only fitting that senior Anna Stewart got on the scoresheet — twice. Stewart, alongside a starting lineup full of senior teammates, scored the team’s first two goals in the 18th and 25th minutes, en route to a 7-0 win over the Cougars.
“It feels pretty good,” Stewart said. “It’s just really fun. We have our celebrations with our goals. The environment we have, it’s just a lot of fun.”
Stewart said the emotions that pop up on senior night can makes those types of games challenging. It didn’t appear to be an issue for the Tides, who cruised to another blowout win.
“There’s just a lot of emotions on senior night, so I think it was important for us to go through all that, but then also, when we come here, to have that calm and focus.”
Junior Alyssa Gray, a Washington State University commit, came off the bench for Gig Harbor (13-0 overall, 11-0 South Sound 3A) in deference to the senior class. It didn’t take Gig Harbor’s star striker long to find the back of the net. Just a minute or so after she came on the field, she netted a goal in the 27th minute for the Tides, before adding another in the 38th.
The second half belonged to freshman Lily Paulson, who bagged a hat trick for the Tides, continuing her stellar first season of high school soccer. She scored goals in the 57th, 72nd and 74th to seal the 7-0 win over Capital (2-9-2, 1-8-2).
“It was really cool, especially because this was our first game of the season at Roy Anderson Field,” Paulson said of her hat trick. “I’ve never played here before. It was a really cool experience, just with the stadium and the lights. Especially since it’s senior night, just doing it for all the seniors.”
Much of Gig Harbor’s senior class are multi-sport athletes, including Stewart, who plays basketball and softball, center back Grace Neil, who plays basketball, Hannah Carroll and Tatum Griffin, who run track in the spring.
“You can’t play so many different sports and not have fun,” Gray said. “Just knowing they can go out and play three sports a year and not get worn out with it, just have fun with it, go out and be good leaders, I feel like them playing that many sports makes it so they’re very good captains.”
With the clean sheet on Thursday, Gig Harbor has only given up three total goals this season, and no league goals since Sept. 11, when the Tides won 6-2 over Timberline.
“I think it happens because we’re just tenacious,” said Gig Harbor coach Stephanie Cox. “Our work rate is super high, our intensity is high. Obviously, when you’re on the ball, you’re not going to give up as many goals. Our attack is great, it puts other teams on their heels. They aren’t crossing our half very often effectively. It’s a credit to our back line and our goalkeepers staying mentally sharp when they don’t have a ton of action during the game.”
And now, Gig Harbor is two wins away from a perfect regular season, with a road game at Yelm at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 23 and the season finale at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 25 against Peninsula at Roy Anderson Field.
But for the Tides, the perfect season isn’t something that is discussed too often.
“It’s not something we talk about,” Cox said. “We just talk about moment by moment and really, just maximizing every time you’re out on the field. I think that’s just a byproduct of not being complacent, being focused and having a high standard on the field. Just the tenaciousness we have to not give other teams an inch, that’s the recipe.”
Could this be the year Gig Harbor makes a deep push into the postseason? For Stewart and the rest of the senior class, they certainly hope so.
“I’m hoping,” she said. “We’re all tasting it. We don’t want to let this year go. This program, in the past, we’ve gotten to this point and then faltered a little bit. So we’re definitely feeling it right now.”
In a league that lacks depth and elite competition for the Tides, the name of the game is getting better in practice.
“There’s always so much to work on and challenge ourselves,” Gray said. “The biggest challenge is training hard at practice. It starts off with how hard we train, how hard we work every day. It could be our year, but we have to work for it. It’s not going to come easy, whatsoever. It’s just a matter of us being a big team and working together.”