The 3A state girls soccer playoffs have provided Gig Harbor challenges it did not face in the regular season.
There was a shootout victory over Edmonds-Woodway, and then there was Friday’s semifinal game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup against Kamiakin, who had not allowed a goal to a 3A team all season.
The Tides, however, scored twice, beating Kamiakin 2-1 on Jaylynn Barton’s header goal in overtime, lifting Gig Harbor into the state title game for the first time in 22 years. Gig Harbor will play Holy Names Academy at 2 p.m. in Puyallup after the Cougars defeated Prairie 3-1 in the other semifinal.
“I’m usually the one who’s supposed to go – I’m like the hunter I guess, and there was one of my players in front of me. I was trying to get her out of the way,” Barton said. “I kind of felt it before (the corner). I felt like this one I kind of have to – this one I have to (put in).”
The Tides (22-0) have rolled through a regular season by capturing the South Sound Conference title while allowing just three goals to league opponents. They won the West Central-Southwest District Tournament and then rallied for a come-from-behind 4-3 win over Edmonds-Woodway only to face a Kamikian squad that was 18-1-1.
“I’m so incredibly proud of them. Just the commitment that they showed over the summer since day one,” Tides coach Stephanie Cox said. “Whether it was in the classroom or in meetings – it’s just the way they give up themselves for each other.”
Kamiakin scored first when midfielder Maddie Morgan beat Tides goalie Claire Bosselmann in the 24th minute.
Gig Harbor kept attacking the Kamiakin defense but Braves goalie Campbelle Hunter was up to the task. With regulation winding down, Gig Harbor’s Alyssa Gray hammered a 35-yard shot that curved right into the right goal post and rebounded back into play. Then the improbable happened.
As the ball came back into play, it deflected off of Kamiakin defender Claire Eerkes and into the Braves goal to tie at 1 in the 78th minute.
Kamiakin came right at the Gig Harbor’s defense as Braves forward Izzy Conover found space to the right of the Tides net only to have her shot smothered by Bosselmann with a full body save.
Gig Harbor then worked their way down the field and forced a corner kick a minute later. Just like they’ve done throughout their careers, Madison McCutcheon lined up the corner kick right into Barton’s path, where the senior forward connected on a no-doubt about it header into the top right corner for the win, 2-1.
“I’m in shock. When I saw the last five minutes, I was like ‘Oh no,’” McCutcheon said. “We needed to get one and we just rallied together. … We needed to put it away early in overtime and not give them anything.”
“It feels so great because in the past we haven’t gotten this far, and so it’s just nice to as a senior to finish off like this,” Barton added.
Saturday’s final game will be the first time the Tides reached the finals since 1996 and the fifth time in the program’s history (1992-1994, 1996). They are guaranteed to at least match their highest placement.
“We’ve been working for it all season. That was our goal at the beginning of the season was to make it to state,” Bosselmann said. “And to overall leave a lasting legacy at our school.”