PORT ANGELES — You could definitely say that the Port Angeles and Sequim soccer teams are both up in the clouds.
Playing in a thick fog that descended upon Wally Sigmar Field, the Roughriders and Wolves, who had both already qualified for the state 2A tournament, battled for a third-place West Central District III 2A seed and a chance to host a state tournament game.
The Riders won 1-0 on a first-half goal from leading scorer Millie Long, earning the right to host a game back at Sigmar on Tuesday and winning two out of three from their North Peninsula rival.
Sequim, meanwhile, will travel to the Ridgefield as the district’s No. 4 seed to play Tuesday night.
It was hard to tell that this game was “just” for seeding as both teams went after each other in a spirited battle.
“The girls were upset with the score, but weren’t upset with the game,” said Sequim coach Derek Vander Velde. “There had to be a winner and a loser.”
“They’re in state three years out of four and we’re in two years in a row,” Vander Velde said.
“This is amazing. We’ve had such an amazing season so far,” said the Riders’ Delaney Wenzl. “I knew all along this team could do it.”
Port Angeles beat Sequim 4-1 early in the season as the Wolves had another slow start to their year. Sequim came back and beat Port Angeles 2-1 on penalty kicks as Hare was the big star of that victory. So, Saturday’s game was a rubber match between the Olympic League 2A Division champion Roughriders and the third-place Wolves.
Vander Velde said he wouldn’t be surprised if the two teams meet a fourth time this season in the state tournament. If the Riders and Wolves both win their state quarterfinal matches, they would play a fourth time Nov. 14-16, possibly again at Wally Sigmar Field.
“It’s really great to see” what the Peninsula teams are not only doing in the Olympic League 2A, but in the district playoffs and in the state playoffs, Vander Velde said.
Port Angeles coach Scott Moseley said this game meant a lot to the Riders, who will get to host a 2A state game for the first time ever in what has been a record-breaking season for Port Angeles.
“Not only are we at home for state, we’re beating our closest rival,” he said.
As far as the intensity of the game between teams already qualified for state?
“I didn’t expect anything different,” Moseley said.
“It means a lot, this rivalry,” Wenzl said. “I don’t know what it is … as soon as we step on the field. With Olivia as the keeper, it was no surprise it was a 1-0 game.”
Moseley said the Riders’ defense (Teagan Clark, Betty Cameron, Kiana Watson-Charles and Isabella Money) played great with one of their starters, Lucah Folden, still out with a pulled hamstring. He also said Riders’ keeper Madi Roening played a great game, especially with a hockey-like kick save on the Wolves’ Hope Glasser. It was the Roughriders’ 12th shutout of the year and fourth-straight shutout. Port Angeles has allowed just seven goals in 18 games.
“It’s not always pretty, but it’s effective,” Moseley said.
In Saturday’s battle, the squads’ keepers starred. Olivia Hare has been a force all season for the Wolves. She started out the match getting a diving save on a Delaney Wenzl early in the game.
Hare dove and got on her hands on a powerful 20-yard left-footed blast from Long, but the shot was too hot to handle and got through Hare’s hands for a Riders score in the 17th minute. It was Long’s 32nd goal of the year.
The Wolves nearly tied the game during stoppage time at the end of the first half when Glasser had a golden chance, getting past the Riders’ defense for a one-on-one opportunity against Port Angeles keeper Roening. Roening made a save with her foot on Glasser’s hard shot to keep the Wolves off the scoreboard as the half ended seconds later.
The game see-sawed back-and-forth in the second half as the field became increasingly obscured in cloud, though it was never bad enough to halt the game. Long put pressure on time again with her powerful runs around the Wolves’ defense, but Sequim did a good job of keeping her under wraps in the second half. Long got off one hard shot in the 52nd minute, but it went just wide of the net.
Roening was forced to make a diving save in the 43rd minute, but Sequim’s best chance came in the 72nd minute when a long and high shot by Hannah Wagner went off the crossbar and off Roening’s outstretched hands. Jessica Dietzman had a wide-open net on the rebound, but she couldn’t quite settle the ball and get a shot off as the Riders’ defenders swarmed her.