PORT ANGELES — Anna Petty’s late-first half goal into an open net stood up despite the valiant efforts from two Sequim goalkeepers as the Roughriders closed out the Wolves 1-0 in the first Rainshadow Rumble Rivalry game of the season.
Petty’s goal came at around the 35th minute mark of a tight, physical contest between the two rivals at Peninsula College’s Wally Sigmar Field on Thursday night.
“There was a scramble at half, a 1-on-1 vs. the keeper and a poor clearance by the outside defender,” Petty said describing how the ball came to rest at her feet, about 20 yards from goal. “All I had to do was put it forward, nothing too powerful, keep it low to the ground. [And I’m thinking] ‘don’t kick it wide, don’t kick it wide and don’t kick it over. Concentrate on a nice, lovely ball.’”
Sequim sophomore goalkeeper Kalli Grove was caught away from net on the play, trying to scoop up the initial Port Angeles shot. Grove was in place for a number of Port Angeles free kicks and corners up to that point, including a tough save up close in the 16th minute.
Grove suffered a knock on that play, but stayed in goal through the half.
“Amazing, absolutely amazing,” Wolves coach Ken Garling said.
“Kalli was standing on her head in the first half. She got nicked up in that one scramble, got a hit to the head and we were concerned about it and didn’t want to put her in for the second half.”
With the Wolves chasing the score in the second half, junior defender Kaia Lestage moved to goalkeeper and proceded to look like an All-Olympic League candidate in net.
“How about Kaia Lestage stepping in?” Garling said. “I said to her at halftime, ‘Hey, there’s a chance’ and with no hesitation she goes, ‘OK, I’ll do it.’ She was awesome, she was stellar in the second half.”
Riders head coach Daniel Horton noticed the switch and let his team know to begin the second half.
“I told them she’s not their keeper, let’s test her,” Horton said. “And in [the postgame handshake] line I told her ‘You might be the new goalie.’”
Lestage tapped away free kicks and corners and made a heroic save to keep out a sure goal on a well-struck Petty shot to the upper left.
Meanwhile, Port Angeles’ defense wasn’t perfect, but it held up the clean sheet for goalkeeper Saylah Commerton. Commerton’s best save came early, stopping Sequim’s speedy striker Taryn Johnson on a breakaway in the 3rd minute.
The Riders were able to constrict the Wolves offensive attack and funnel Sequim into using less of the field, particularly after halftime.
“We were solid in trying to build up our attack,” Petty said. “There was a lot of play along the back line, sometimes we panicked, but I felt, coach told us we had to play to our feet and in the second half we were able to do that and maintain a lot of possession.”
Horton said his team adjusted well defensively.
“I thought in the second half we did better because we won more balls in the air, we were getting more body-to-body defending and closing that space, where in the first half we were giving a cushion and letting balls bounce and letting girls turn. So that was a focus, don’t let them turn and get the ball out of the air and on the turf.”
He praised senior Lilly Sanders for her work on the back line.
“Lilly our senior center back is new to that position, but she’s smart and played really well, we lean on her a lot and she bailed us out several times.”
Garling said he was impressed with how his team performed.
“When we connected our passes and kept our spacing, that was when we were solid, that’s when we could get forward and create chances,” Garling said.
“When we went wrong we would get too narrow, we weren’t working the width and we would turn the ball over in transition and we wouldn’t quite adjust quick enough some times.
“They did well, they had to adjust a little bit, but we were getting right in there with them. PA has a tough team, a tough squad and it’s always a great matchup.”
Port Angeles (2-0-0) visits North Mason on Tuesday, while Sequim (1-1-0) hosts Olympic (1-1-0, 3-1-0) on Tuesday night.
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at [email protected] peninsuladailynews.com.