SEQUIM — Last season, Sequim used a crucial midseason win over a powerful Port Angeles squad as a catalyst in turning its season around and eventually winning the West Central District III tournament and making the school’s first-ever girls soccer state tournament appearance.
In a similar predicament with a 2-4 Olympic League mark entering Tuesday’s match with the rival Roughriders, the Wolves pulled off the upset, knocking off an unbeaten Port Angeles squad 2-1 in penalty kicks thanks to the heroics of goalkeeper Olivia Hare and Hope Glasser, who nearly lost a tooth in the match.
“That is the type of game where you come together,” Sequim coach Derek Vandervelde told his players afterward.
The Wolves (3-4-0, 4-4-1) came in to the match having recently snapped a three-game losing streak, and trying desperately to get back into the Olympic League 2A Division playoff chase.
The Riders (6-1-0, 9-1-0) came in undefeated in first place having outscored their opponents this year 40-4. They walked away from the match frustrated that a tipped shot and a ball off the post kept them from winning.
It came down to penalty kicks as the rivalry match ended regulation and overtime tied 1-1.
Hare, who already had a couple of spectacular saves to her credit on some golden opportunities by the Riders’ Millie Long, made three straight saves on penalty kicks to give the Wolves the win.
“I feel like the pressure is on the kicker [on penalty kicks]. For me, it’s just having fun with it. I don’t put pressure on myself,” Hare said.
Back and forth
It was a match filled with huge momentum swings. Port Angeles carried much of the action early with the ball deep in Sequim’s end for the first 20 minutes of the match, nearly scoring in the second minute when a shot went off the post.
Long, who is leading the Olympic 2A in goals, had a couple of powerful left-footed shots that went high, but other than the shot off the post, Port Angeles never seriously threatened.
Despite all the early Port Angeles pressure, it was Sequim that broke through first on a scramble in front of the net after a corner kick in the 24th minute. Hannah Wagner knocked the ball in for a tally to make it 1-0.
After that goal, the Wolves were definitely energized and they carried much of the play for the rest of the second half, forcing Riders’ goalkeeper Madi Roening to make a diving save late in the half.
It remained 1-0 Sequim until early in the second half when the Wolves accidentally knocked the ball into their own net on a Port Angeles corner in the 47th minute.
In the 55th minute, there was a scary collision between Glasser and the Riders’ Mia Gagnon as both players tried to head a ball —leaving Glasser with a loose tooth and Gagnon with a cut on her forehead.
It was an exhausting match for Glasser, who was tasked with keeping Long under control, and she did an outstanding job.
The Riders like to use deep passes to Long (a state champion hurdler) and let her use her speed and athleticism to break down the opponents’ defense. But Glasser stayed glued to Long all match and other than one golden opportunity in the final minute, she kept the two-time reigning All-Peninsula Girls Soccer MVP under wraps.
Vandervelde said this isn’t Glasser’s normal role, but she embraced it.
“Hope did a great job tonight. Her stepping up for that role is huge,” he said.
Long did have a couple of chances. In the 60th minute, she finally got open for a one-on-one chance on Hare, but Hare walled off the Riders’ striker.
Then in stoppage time came an even better chance. Long had a wide-open net in front of her on a sharply angled shot, but Hare was able to barely tip it and the shot went just wide. That would’ve surely won the match for the Riders if it had gone it.
Port Angeles coach Scott Moseley said the match came down to those lost opportunities.
“We had multiple chances to score,” he said. “One on one … we couldn’t finish.”
The two five-minute overtime periods were relatively uneventful, sending the match to penalty kicks. Hare blocked three straight Port Angeles shots.
Meanwhile, Sequim’s Alexis Smith and Daisy Ryan scored to give the Wolves a 2-0 lead in the penalty kicks. Roening was able to stop one penalty kick, but with the Wolves holding a 2-0 edge, Gabby Happe ended the match by making Sequim’s third penalty kick.
“They really came together tonight. They fought for all 80 minutes,” Derek.
“They [Sequim] played well, it was a back and forth [game],” Moseley said.
“To be able to pull this off was a boost [to our season],” Hare said.
“It was good to see them play some nice soccer,” Vandervelde said.
Vandervelde said that in addition to Glasser and Hare’s play, Happe and Kristina Mingoy played well on the back line.
Despite the loss, the Roughriders remain solidly in first place in the Olympic 2A League. They pick up a point for forcing penalty kicks and have 19 points, well ahead of second-place North Mason with 11 points.
After digging themselves in a deep hole in September, the Wolves are now definitely in the playoff hunt again after two straight wins. They are 3-4-0 with a shootout loss and a shootout win for nine points, in fifth place, one point behind North Kitsap and Bremerton, each with 10 points. North Kitsap does have an advantage down the stretch, however, as the Viking have only played five league games so far.
Port Angeles hosts Kingston (0-5-0, 1-7-1) at 6:45 p.m. tonight, while the Wolves have a critical game on the road tonight against Bremerton (3-4-0, 5-4-0) for fourth place.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]