It’s customary in non-league soccer games that if tied at the end of regulation, the game would be considered a draw.
But after a short discussion between the coaches and referees on the far sideline, Montesano and Seattle Academy – two teams that faced each other in last year’s state third/fourth-place game – decided to play on.
For the Bulldogs and their fans, it was well worth it.
Monte keeper Riley Timmons made a save and sophomore midfielder Lexi Stanfield scored the game-winner as the Bulldogs emerged with a 2-1 victory, 4-2 in a penalty-kick shootout.
“This is one of the biggest regular-season wins in program history,” Montesano head coach Fidel Sanchez said after the Bulldogs took down the team that blanked them in last year’s state Final Four. “They beat us last year. That’s a Final Four team every year. … It’s good to see these kinds of wins right now.”
Playing for the first time in front of a home crowd this season, Monte (3-0-1 overall) opened the game by chasing a Cardinals team that consistently connected on passes and held possession throughout the first 20 minutes of the game.
But Montesano’s defensive back line held form, leading to four offside calls against Seattle Academy in the first half alone.
The Bulldogs began to win back the ball with more aggressive challenges in the midfield later in the first half and started to penetrate into the Cardinals’ offensive zone.
Monte’s pressure paid off in just under three minutes to go in the half when a ball was sent back to Cardinals keeper Avery Murch. Bulldogs forward Adda Potts closed the gap toward Murch to apply pressure. Murch attempted to clear the ball, but her kick hit Potts from just five yards away. The ball immediately ricocheted off Potts and into the net for a goal to break the scoreless tie.
“When the goal keeper has the ball at her feet, you press,” Sanchez said of Potts’ goal. “We know that some goal keepers don’t have the greatest feet and we took advantage of that. Adda did a great job pressuring her. Sometimes you have to make your own luck and that’s what we did today.”
In contrast to the first half, the second 40 minutes of play was much more back and forth, with both teams creating scoring chances that testing opposing defenses.
Seattle Academy nearly tied the game early in the half when a misplayed ball on the Monte backline led to Cardinals junior forward Isla McNae getting loose on a breakaway, but Monte’s First Team all-state goal keeper Riley Timmons raced from her line and dove at McNae’s feet to stop the play in its tracks.
The Cardinals broke through the Bulldogs defense in the 51st minute when freshman forward Maddie Maves got the ball in the middle of the field a few yards outside the 18-yard box. Maves turned and ripped a hard shot to the top far corner of the net to knot the game up at 1-all.
Monte had several prime chances to regain the lead, including a free kick from just outside the 18 that was blocked by the Cardinals wall followed by a rebound shot going over the crossbar.
In the 73rd minute, Monte’s aggression led to a close shot that was blocked by Murch. A shot off the rebound was then sent just wide of the far post.
In the second overtime, Monte’s best chance to score came on a corner kick that was headed around before a shot was blocked by a Cardinals defender back out to midfield.
In the penalty-kick shootout, Monte senior midfielder Bethanie Henderson scored first and was followed by a Timmons save on a PK from Molly Eamer.
Monte’s Mikayla Stanfield, Potts and the Cardinals’ Addison Bay and Maves converted their penalty kicks, with each team having an attempt ring off a post.
With the game at her feet, Bulldogs sophomore Lexi Stanfield shot to the right side of the net. Murch guessed left yet still got a hand on the ball, but it wasn’t enough as the ball deflected in to give Montesano the victory and firmly establish the Bulldogs as one of the state’s top teams.
The game was played as the second game of the Montesano Showcase, with Archbishop Murphy facing Elma earlier in a day where top local teams took on some of the best from around the state.
Monte arguably has one of the toughest non-league schedules in the 1A class this season. Next up for the Bulldogs is defending 1A champion Klahowya at 5 p.m. Thursday in Klahowya followed by a home game against 3A Evergreen the following Tuesday.
“Our schedule is brutal,” Sanchez said, adding that there are several benefits to playing such a grueling non-league schedule, including a more favorable RPI position. “That’s why we do this. We wanted to get this competition to help our situation at the end of the season.”
Seattle Academy 0 1 0 0 – 1
Montesano 1 0 0 0 – 1
First half – 1, Montesano, Potts, 37th minute.
Second half – 2, Seattle Academy, Maves, 51st minute.
Overtime – none.
Penalty kicks – Montesano 4 (Henderson G, M. Stanfield G, Potts G, Kersker NG, L. Stanfield G). Seattle Academy 2 (Eamer NG, Bay G, McNae NG, Maves G)