Curtis came into its final league game Tuesday night against second-place Puyallup knowing that it had a commanding lead over its 4A South Puget Sound League South Division rivals.
A win for Curtis would secure its third consecutive league title, while a victory for Puyallup would keep its championship hopes alive.
And after forward Katelynn Wood connected on two goals to lift Puyallup to a 2-0 victory at Sparks Stadium, Curtis’ chance at another coronation had to wait.
“We’re still in the driver’s seat in league,” said Curtis coach Frank Hankel. “We still have the tiebreaker on Puyallup.”
The win by Puyallup (10-2-2, 9-1 league with a game remaining) gives it the chance to tie Curtis (13-2, 10-1 league) in the standings, but Curtis has a 5-to-4 goal lead over its rival.
Puyallup came into the match with a new game plan. Puyallup was not going to allow Curtis standout Morgan Weaver to beat it at its home field.
Puyallup coach Matt White’s plan? Stick forward Saige Lyons on Weaver for the entire game.
“Just stay tight on her back — that’s what I was thinking (to) stop her from making her runs,” Lyons said. “She has good foot skills, too, so I can’t just stab at the ball. I had to stay composed and know when to run and when not to stab.”
“We were basically going to make Curtis beat us — not Morgan Weaver beat us,” White said. “We gave up one dangerous shot and then everything was clean up.”
It worked perfectly as Weaver never had a clean shot closer than 25 yards, while being swarmed by Lyons or another Puyallup defender.
It was a frustrating experience for Weaver and Curtis.
“I think our biggest thing is to just keep our mental process,” Weaver said. “We can’t let the refs get to us. We can’t get to ourselves.”
Puyallup went heavy on the defense in its win, and in the end, it was those set-ups that led to Wood’s goals.
With Puyallup having nearly every player but Wood in their half, a loose ball shot across midfield. Wood was able to track it down and pop off a 30-yard blast at the 11-minute mark.
“It was a good ball from the team,” Wood said of her rocket. “I knew I couldn’t take too many touches.”
In the 74th minute, Puyallup midfielder Jordyn Bartelson fought through the Curtis defense and laced a low ground pass to Wood that the forward easily tapped in at the net.
“That was a great ball from ‘JJ’ as I was calling for it, and the next thing I knew I was thinking, ‘Get in the net. Get in the net.’ ” Wood said.
Curtis will have to wait until Oct. 27 to attempt to claim the South League title when it travels to face third-place Graham-Kapowsin (7-6, 6-4) at Art Crate Stadium. Puyallup plays G-K this Thursday before closing out against Rogers (6-7, 4-6).
“We need to stay positive … from here on out, we just need to do that to reach the final four,” Weaver said.
Sumner 4, Auburn Riverside 0: Sumner (12-1-0; 11-0-0, 30 points 3A SPSL) beat second-place Auburn Riverside for the second time this season behind Sam Larberg’s two goals and moved four points ahead of the Ravens (10-3-0; 9-2-0, 26 points) in the league standings with three matches remaining for both teams.
Ali Whemer scored the first goal for the Spartans, who went up 2-0 on Larberg’s first goal two minutes before the end of the first half.
Luxee Cardin made it 3-0 in the 57th minute and Larberg added her second goal in the 74th.
Sumner has won 12 consecutive matches since its season-opening loss to Tahoma and is close to winning its second consecutive 3A SPSL title after winning back-to-back state championships its final two seasons (2012, 2013) as a 2A school.