The past three years, the Gig Harbor High School girls soccer team has seen stellar regular seasons end with losses in the first round of the state tournament.
Not this year.
Gig Harbor knocked off West Seattle, 3-1, in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament on Tuesday night at Roy Anderson Field, breaking the streak and pushing the Tides into this year’s state quarterfinals.
“It just feels amazing,” said junior forward Alyssa Gray, a Washington State University commit, who scored two goals in the win. “We came out here and just wanted to beat that. We’ve been stuck in the first round and we just didn’t want that to happen again. It feels amazing. We all worked together really well as a team. We play it day by day but this was a big step for us.”
In the first 10 minutes of the game, West Seattle came after Gig Harbor, throwing numbers forward and putting the Tides on their heels. Coming into the game with a 19-0 record, Gig Harbor hadn’t been seriously threated in the South Sound Conference at any point during the season, so it was imperative for the team to hang in.
“We talked about the first 5 or 10 minutes, weathering the storm, staying compact and tight and not giving them anything easy,” said Gig Harbor coach Stephanie Cox. “That’s not how all of our games have gone, so I think it takes some composure on the sideline to trust that OK, we’ll find our rhythm and find goals, which we did, and then keep the other team out of the back of our net.”
Gig Harbor opened the scoring in the 13th minute, when a ball deflected off a corner kick and landed at the feet of Gray, who tapped it in. Getting the game’s first goal gave Gig Harbor some belief and momentum.
“As soon as I saw it crossing that line, I was ecstatic,” Gray said. “Just getting that first goal is a big deal. To get a goal just gives you momentum. It’s super exciting.”
West Seattle equalized in the 30th minute, when Juliet Anawalt followed up a ball that had deflected off the crossbar and headed it in. But Gig Harbor had an immediate answer. A minute later, freshman Lily Paulson scored for the Tides, putting Gig Harbor up 2-1 heading into halftime. Gray took care of the rest, getting behind the West Seattle back line in the 45th minute and finding the back of the net to put Gig Harbor ahead, 3-1.
Gray and Paulson have been the team’s two leading goal scorers this season, so seeing their names on the scoresheet wasn’t a big surprise to anyone.
“They’re just dynamic and when teams give us space behind, Alyssa is so explosive and just a great finisher,” Cox said. “So teams are surprised, all the sudden they’re playing and then, bam. We’re very dangerous. Lily knows Alyssa is making those runs behind, so their tandem is very dangerous.”
That being said, Gray isn’t afraid to look for her teammates if the situation calls for it.
“It’s definitely nice to score goals, but sometimes they’re going to target me and mark me up,” Gray said. “And that’s fine, that’s what they should be doing. But I just have so much depth around me. ... I’ve got a whole team around me that can take those shots on. All the pressure isn’t on me.”
Gig Harbor will host the winner of Edmonds-Woodway and Lakeside of Seattle in the quarterfinals, likely to be played on Saturday, but still to be determined.
Kamiakin 5, Peninsula 0: The Braves’ offense did not slow down against the Seahawks as two late goals in the second half put the game out of reach.
The Seahawks’ season ends at 11-8-2.
Mercer Island 2, Bonney Lake 0: Elaina Martin and Ashley Rudd both scored for the Islanders to advance to the quarterfinals.
The Panthers’ season ends at 15-3-1.
Bellarmine Prep 1, Redmond 0: The Lions (12-2-4) completed a narrow win over the Mustangs. The only goal of the game came off of a well-placed shot by Sam McKiernan.
Goalkeeper Isabelle Davis sescured the shutout for Bellarmine.
Gonzaga Prep 1, Sumner 0: The Spartans were shut out by the Bullpups in the first round of the state playoffs as they struggled to get any offense going.
The 4A SPSL runners-up finsh at 10-3-6.
Liberty of Issaquah 4, White River 1: The Patriots secured a decisive win over the Hornets in the opening round. The Hornets’ playoff run ends at 16-3-4.
Fife 2, Archbishop Murphy 1 (OT): The Trojans prevailed in overtime as a late corner goal from Taylor Goodpaster secured a first-round win.
Goodpaster also got the Trojans on the board in the 64th minute, tying the game at 1-1.
Fife (19-2-1) will play the winner of Olympic-Columbia River in the quarterfinals later this week.
Klahowya 7, Tenino 0: The Beavers could not find an answer to the Eagles’ Hope Martin and Kayden Eckley. Both scored a pair of goals in their rout of Tenino.
Martin’s opening goal in the 15th minute sparked the Eagles’ offense, and led to two goals scored within a minute of each other by Alyssa Peters and Eckley.
Tenino’s season ends at 13-6-1.
Staff writers Chase Hutchinson and Jordan Whitford contributed to this report.