The biggest assist in the history of Life Christian Academy soccer did not come on a goal Friday.
It came on common sense.
Abby Pierson is the Eagles’ regular goalkeeper at 5-foot tall. Needless to say, she isn’t necessarily best built to save whizzing shots at close range in shootouts.
So, on the sideline, Pierson went to coach Chris Anderson and offered up her position to a bigger player.
The strategy worked, and the fifth-ranked Eagles are off to their first state championship game in any sport after upending No. 2 Adna in the Class 1B/2B girls soccer semifinals at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.
After the two teams played to a 1-1 draw through regulation and two overtime periods, Life Christian made four of its five penalty kicks in the shootout to edge the Pirates, 4-3.
The Eagles (14-4) will meet defending state champion St. George’s on Saturday at 2 p.m. for all the marbles.
“You don’t want to go to (a shootout), because it is a little stressful,” Anderson said. “But I really did have faith in them that they could come through.”
The Eagles learned a valuable lesson two weeks ago in the same situation, and against the same opponent in the district title match. The Eagles blew a three-goal lead, and lost in a shootout to the Pirates (16-3).
“We decided to go with a bigger goalkeeper (Friday),” Anderson said. “It is more of a mental thing in (penalty kicks).”
Anderson asked junior forward Alea Yun, who is the second-tallest player on the team at 5-foot-8, to move into goal.
“When I have my hands up, I look bigger than I really am,” Yun said.
Thing is, Yun had played in goal sparingly throughout club season, but none during this school season.
“It is just trying to be athletic,” Yun said. “You kind of learn what to do from watching.”
And the Eagles needed her to come up big.
Adna goalkeeper Makaela Meister made an unbelievable save on Elysse Loyola’s low shot to keep the shootout tied at 3-3.
But Yun answered for Life Christian when she corralled Emily Silva’s liner on Adna’s fourth attempt.
Tyler Taff gave the Eagles a 4-3 lead with her penalty-kick goal.
For Adna to stay alive, Jordyn Swenson needed to make her shot, But it went off the crossbar high, and the Eagles were moving on after avenging three earlier losses to the Pirates.
Life Christian scored first on Amanda Hamel’s goal in the 10th minute, and outshot the Pirates, 17-8, for the match
But Yun gave much of the credit to Pierson’s unselfish gesture.
“We are a family,” Yun said. “We all love each other, and trust each other. It came down to God’s will.”
St. George’s 1, Brewster 1 (Dragons win in shootout, 5-3): The defending 1B/2B champions overcame an early deficit, and were perfect in the shootout to return to the state finals.
Maddy Christiansen, Cambrie Rickard, Lydia Bergquist, Mary Neder and Sydney Wilcox all converted penalty kicks for the Dragons.
St. George’s goalkeeper Cate Caporicci swatted away Marlissa Garcia’s shot in the shootout to give her team an advantage.
Alli Dixon tied the match at 1-1 for the Dragons with her goal inside the right post in the 49th minute.
Brewster (19-1) suffered its first loss of the season.
Life Christian 1, Adna 1 (LCA wins in shootout, 4-3)
Goals: Amanda Hael (LCA) 10’, Payton Aselton (A) 20’.
PK goals: Amanda Hamel, Grace Pierson, Ladyn Lovelady and Tyler Taff for LCA. Payton Aselton, Olivia Rodriguez and Brynn Arrington for Adna.
St. George’s 1, Brewster 1 (St. George’s wins in shootout, 5-3)
St. George’s; 0;1_1
Goals: Yvette Sanchez (B) 1’, Alli Dixon (SG) 49’
PK goals: Maddy Christiansen, Cambrie Rickard, Lydia Bergquist, Mary Neder and Sydney Wilcox for St. George’s. Yalina Vargas, Yvette Sanchez and Rosa Tinoco for Brewster.