By Pierre LaBossiere
Peninsula Daily News
YAKIMA — The Port Angeles soccer girls overcame a long road trip and bitterly cold temperatures in the center of Washington, shutting out East Valley (Yakima) 2-0 in the opening round of the state 2A tournament.
The victory sends the girls into the state 2A quarterfinals against West Valley of Spokane on Saturday. West Valley beat Lynden on Wednesday 4-1.
The Roughriders are in a good bracket as West Valley is just 9-9, but made the state tournament because the Eagles won their district tournament.
The win was the Riders’ 13th of the season (13-8), which ties for the most in program history. The Riders also set a school record with their seventh shutout of the season, their third shutout of the postseason in five playoff games. Bonnie Sires made three saves in goal to pick up the shutout.
Port Angeles’ 63 goals on the season is the second-most in school history. As an example of how hot the Riders are, they have won four out of five postseason matches, with the sole loss coming against the No. 1-ranked team in the state, White River, in the West Central District 3 tournament. And that game was tied at halftime.
It also was the girls’ ninth road game out of their past 10, including four West Central District 3 tournament games held in Tacoma. (Port Angeles won three out of those four.).
The girls came in to the match as a No. 5 seed. East Valley was only 9-7, but came in to the match as a No. 1 seed after winning the District 5 tournament. The game began after sunset in 38-degree temperatures. Coach Scott Moseley said the team started off slow for the first 15 minutes of the match, which began with a number of shots on goal by East Valley’s Taylor Plata.
“The Red Devils won the balls in the air, were more aggressive to the ball and generally dominated possession. As they did against Lindbergh on Saturday, Port Angeles recovered its early form and grew stronger as the game progressed,” Moseley said. Port Angeles’ Kennedy Mason marked Plata and was able to slow her down the rest of the match.
“We were unusually timid at the start. We just weren’t clicking, but weathered the storm and were eventually able to control the game,” Moseley said.
Defender Lucah Folden also noted that the start was “shaky.”
“But, we gained our composure and completely dominated the rest of the game. Our back four [defenders] came in clutch when we needed to,” Folden said.
Moseley credited midfielder Kyrsten McGuffey with spearheading the change. “Kyrsten took it up a level after a slow start and began dominating the midfield and that helped change the game, ” he said.
The first half ended 0-0. The Riders got on the board quickly in the second half to break the game open. Emilia Long found a sprinting Sierra Robinson, who outraced three Red Devil defenders and booted a shot past the keeper for a 1-0 Riders lead in the 44th minute. It was Robinson’s 12th goal of the year.
East Valley put the pressure on to get an equalizer, earning corner kicks and forcing Port Angeles into a goal line clearance by Long, but were not able to break through for a goal.
Senior Emily Boyd got an insurance goal in the 73rd minute, kicking an 18-yarder into the goal. The ball hit the underside of the crossbar and bounced back but the referee ruled it had crossed the goal line.
“It was just like we have practicing all year long so I knew I would be able to hit the target,” said Boyd.
“We realized that we not only can compete with state level teams, we ARE a state level team,” said Shanzi Cosgrove.
Long earned her 15th assist of the season to go with her 16 goals. Boyd’s goal was her fifth of the year.
North Kitsap also won its 2A state tournament match 2-1 over Hockinson, so the Olympic League 2A Division already has two teams in the final eight. If Olympic won Wednesday night, that would make three teams out of the final eight.