SEQUIM — The eyes had it. Sequim goalkeeper Kalli Grove followed the gaze of Port Angeles’ Paige Mason to the right post, diving correctly to that side for a tip save on Mason’s late penalty kick and covering up the resulting rebound to preserve the Wolves’ 2-1 win over the Roughriders on Thursday night.
Mason stepped up to take the kick following a handball call on Sequim in the goal box in the 70th minute, 10 minutes from the end of the contest.
“I watch the girl who is taking the PK,” Grove said. “Her eyes especially, she was looking at that corner and I made the decision to go there. And after I went straight to the ball because I didn’t want them to have another chance.”
The Wolves were able to see out the final moments of an evenly played Rainshadow Rumble rivalry contest.
“I was so excited for her,” Wolves coach Ken Garling said of Grove. “She’s been working so hard on those. Goalkeepers, your team is goig to ask you to make one or two big saves in a game and stopping a PK is one of those big saves, so for her to step up, read it and save it was fantastic. But I’m happy for all of our players, they all played great.”
Port Angeles coach Daniel Horton said the Riders played better overall in his opinion than Sequim, but the Wolves took advantage of a couple of let down plays.
“Because of the belief I have in what we have over here, and it happens in sports, but I don’t think the better team won,” Horton said. “We dominated the first half and made a mistake late and a good team will make you pay for mistakes.”
The Riders limited Sequim star Taryn Johnson to one outstanding run toward goal in the first half that ended with a shot wide of the mark. Port Angeles’ Maeve Croteau sent a free kick from right-to-left toward goal, but the ball bounced off the bar.
“Port Angeles was doing such a great job physically, beating us to the ball, knocking us off our marks,” Garling said of the first half.
Mistake leads to goal
But Sequim took a 1-0 lead when sophomore defender Kiley Winter poked home a loose ball which had bounced around the goal box just a minute before halftime.
Wolves’ midfielder Jenny Gomez came on strong in the second half, sending a number of through balls up the field and between the Riders’ defense.
“She understands the game so well, she has great vision,” Garling said of Gomez.
On such play, Sequim freshman forward Sasha Yada ran on to Gomez’ long ball and dribbled into the box, finding on-coming Port Angeles goalkeeper Kennedy Rognlien in her path. Rognlien was called for a penalty kick for bumping Yada while attempting to cover up the ball.
Yada was one of a number of freshmen who stood out for Sequim.
“Sasha, her and Olive Bridge are tough. Those girls are not afraid. I’ve told them it doesn’t matter that you are a freshman just go out and play and trust your abilities,” Garling said.
Grove complimented Yada’s play as well.
“As a freshman she’s really good and very confident, too,” Grove said.
Johnson stuck the ensuing penalty kick to the right side to put Sequim up 2-0 in the 48th minute.
Port Angeles then bore down, picking up its intensity offensively and getting a bit of luck in the 53rd minute when Mason’s high arching shot from about 25 yards away landed high up in the back of the net, high enough that Grove had no chance to make the save.
After the penalty kick save, the Riders had a couple of good chances to tie it up once more.
After a good buildup, Teanna Clark and Izzy Felton played as good a give and go play as you would see on the basketball court, only to have Sequim’s defense clear the ball in the goal box.
Maeve Croteau’s long free kick from nearly midfield also had a chance to go in, but Grove was there to catch the ball on its first bounce and prevent any danger.
“They make each other work and we don’t expect anything less from Sequim, we know they will have something for us,” Horton said. “And even if you play really well, if you make a mistake they are good enough to pounce on it.”
Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at email@example.com.