High School Sports

Bethel blanks Peninsula to earn berth in soccer playoffs

The Bethel High School girls soccer team didn’t overwhelm Peninsula with an onslaught of shots on goal in Saturday afternoon’s loser-out West Central III district soccer game at Harry Lang Stadium, but when the Braves did have chances, they took advantage.

Bethel freshman Savannah James took advantage of some time and space in the 12th minute, scoring a beauty in the top right corner of the goal, and speedy junior forward Allie Howard got loose in the 49th minute and slotted the game’s second goal into the right side of the net.

That was all Bethel (10-4-2) would need, as the Braves’ tough defense kept a clean sheet against Peninsula (10-5-0), sealing the 2-0 Bethel win. Bethel advances to the Class 3A state tournament, while Peninsula’s season comes to an end.

“It feels really great,” said Bethel forward Allie Howard. “We worked really hard in practice and over the course of the season. It’s just been a lot of hard work. It’s a good feeling.”

For the Braves, it’s been a successful season. Now, they’ll get a crack at the state tournament.

“It just shows how far we’ve come,” Howard said. “Last year, we lost in the first game of the playoffs. The year before, we were not who we are today. We’ve grown so much in the last couple years. It’s great to see where we’ve gone, with where we’ve come from.”

Peninsula battled until the final whistle, but it wasn’t the Seahawks’ day.

“It was really tough, being a senior and knowing it’s my last game,” said Peninsula midfielder Baily Paul. “I feel like all of us seniors gave everything we had, until the last second. We knew it was going to be tough competition, coming in. We watched a few videos of them and we knew they were bigger but we came in confident. We just were unlucky today.”

Peninsula forward Ashleigh Bernhard said the team just wasn’t on the same page.

“Our mental stability wasn’t really good after we gave up the first goal,” she said. “There just wasn’t enough communication, to be honest.”

Still, Peninsula has come a long way the past few years. When coach Jenny Buys took the reins of the program three years ago, it wasn’t a pretty picture. Things are better now, with Peninsula taking second in the South Sound Conference this year.

“It’s crazy — my freshman year, we were hoping to not get 10 goals scored on us,” Paul said. “Now, we’re fighting for state. It’s been such a transition through the years. We’ve fought and grown as a team so much.”

Buys will say goodbye to a group of seniors that has been with her since the start.

“It’s actually come a long way,” Buys said. “That’s why I’m mostly sad. The girls that are seniors are the girls that started with me three years ago. We’ve come from not making it into the playoffs to being the spoiler in the playoffs to being legitimate contenders and losing. We’re going for the state title — that’s the goal every year.”