Hailey Brandner was feeling it in Cascade Christian’s 3-0 shutout of Charles Wright on Tuesday night at Sunset Chev Stadium.
With a chance to secure a guaranteed seed out of the 1A West Central District III playoffs, the Cougars’ senior captain made sure Cascade Christian punched its ticket for the district title game on Saturday.
“This game was so important, I was pumped,” said Brandner, who had a hand in every Cougar goal in the semifinal win. “As soon as that first whistle blew, I knew it was game time.”
The Nisqually League champions looked every bit like the undefeated Cascade Christian team that dominated league, with Brandner finishing with a goal and a pair of assists in the win.
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The win secures Cascade Christian (15-0-1) a spot in the district championship game as the Cougars will face Olympic League champion Klahowya (12-1-2) for the No. 1 seed at Silverdale Stadium on Saturday. The Eagles defeated the Vashon Pirates, 3-0.
“With the chance to get into state, I was going to do everything I could to make sure we got one of those spots,” Brandner said.
Charles Wright (7-9-1) will face Vashon (9-5-3) in a winner-to-state/loser-out contest Saturday at Silverdale Stadium.
Cascade Christian’s speed and midfield work proved too much for Charles Wright, as the Cougars kept the pressure on the Tarriers by sending the ball forward in the air and allowing Brandner and Nicole Souply to work the defense.
In the ninth minute, Brandner headed home a Grace Jung cross past Tarriers keeper Ellen Tong for a 1-0 lead.
“I always have my head up, knowing that Hailey and Nicole are always working the middle,” Jung said. “Hailey worked so hard, and since she’s so aggressive, it gives me the confidence to play those big balls to her.”
Twenty minutes later, in the the Cougars’ defense withstood a barrage of passes into the penalty box, only to create a breakaway, where Brandner laced a through-ball to Souply, Cascade Christian a 2-0 lead at the half.
“I didn’t really mean to do that,” said Souply, who scored her 28th goal on the season. “I turned to hit Hailey again, but I turned a full circle and then looked up and saw that I was open.”
But Cascade Christian coach Clark Jennings wanted more.
“I challenged them to not let up coming out of halftime,” Jennings said. “Being up 2-0 is a dangerous position to be in, so we were fortunate to get an early goal in the second half.”
The Cougars didn’t let up coming out of the break, as Brandner used a bit of creativity she had to set up Anna Jennings for a goal.
Brandner connected with a quick pass to Jennings 25 yards out and the senior hammered in a top-shelf goal for a 3-0 lead in the 46th minute.
“It just happens sometimes. You go into your automatic-zone, and it’s like boom, boom, boom,” said Brandner, who scored her 16th goal. “I saw Anna, and I knew she was feeling this one. As soon as I kicked it out to her, I knew she’s good.”
Kierstin Patefields (six saves) earned her 12th shutout of the season with the win.