It wasn’t how they envisioned their trip to final four ending, but the Montesano Bulldogs still made history this season.
Montesano fell 5-0 to No. 1 seed Klahowya in the state’s third/fourth-place game on Saturday at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline, placing fourth overall in the state — the highest state finish for any girls soccer team in the school’s history.
“You gave us everything you had and then some,” Montesano head coach Fidel Sanchez said to his team after the game. “As coaches, we can’t ask for more effort than that. All the way from summer until now. … We really appreciate it as coaches. We learned as a team, we learned as a program. … You forever changed the program. We know what it is like to be here. We’ll keep shooting for that goal, every single year.”
Sanchez’s words came after No. 7 Montesano (17-4 overall) allowed five goals for the second-consecutive day in the 1A State Tournament’s final rounds.
After dropping Friday afternoon’s semifinal matchup 5-1 to eventual state champion No. 3 Deer Park, the Bulldogs were right back at it Saturday morning with a matchup against the Eagles, who lost for the first time this season 3-2 in overtime to No. 4 Seattle Academy in a semifinal game Friday evening.
Unlike Friday’s contest, Montesano had scoring chances early on, the most dangerous coming in the Bulldogs’ first possession of the game when senior forward/midfielder Jaiden Morrison made a run down the sideline and sent a cross in toward the front of the Klahowya net. Eagles goal keeper Ella Bottalico dove in an attempt to disrupt the play, but bobbled the ball as Monte forward Mikayla Stanfield rushed in toward the rebound, but Klahowya was able to successfully clear the attempt away.
In the sixth minute of the game, another dangerous Morrison run down the wing led to another tantalizing cross toward the Eagles net, but Bottalico was able to secure the ball and preserve the scoreless tie.
A minute later, Morrison was fouled 10 yards outside the Eagles penalty area, setting up a free kick by Montesano senior midfielder Paige Lisherness, whose attempt at the top of the net cleared over the crossbar and out of play.
The Bulldogs missed opportunities early in the game would come back to haunt them as Klahowya broke the tie on a goal off a cross in the 11th minute.
Ten minutes later, Klahowya (18-1-1) doubled its lead when Montesano keeper Riley Timmons made a diving save on a shot by midfielder Alisa Divano, but Monte’s defense had trouble clearing the ball against well-positioned Eagles attackers.
The Eagles regained possession deep in Monte’s third and moved the ball to midfielder Bailey Watland, who fed a cross toward the front of the net that was chipped in by Divano for a 2-0 lead.
Monte’s defense would hold until the final minute of the half, when Timmons got her hands on a Divano corner kick that was bending into the net. The loose ball went in off a Monte player for what was ruled an own goal in the 40th minute.
Things got worse for Monte shortly after halftime, as Klahowya put the game away when Divano sent a straight shot directly toward Timmons, but the ball popped out of Timmons’ grasp and spun across the line for the Eagles’ fourth goal of the game in the 42nd minute.
Monte cleared its bench and played most of its subs with just over ten minutes remaining as the Bulldogs failed to muster any offense in the second half.
The Eagles tacked on another goal in the 78th minute on a shot by Victoria Peters to hand Monte the 5-0 loss and the fourth-place finish in the state.
“We can’t give away goals like we did,” Sanchez said. “Very unlucky goals. What else could we do? Unlucky, unlucky, unlucky is how I describe this game.”
Sanchez said competing against top-level talent such as eventual state champion Deer Park — which defeated Seattle Academy 1-0 in the title game Saturday afternoon — and top-seeded Klahowya, gave his program valuable experience and perspective on what Montesano needs to do to climb the next rung of the ladder.
“It gave us a lot of experience and we have a lot of things we need to expand on,” he said. “I’m proud of the girls. We made it this far and that’s what it is all about. … Unfortunately, it didn’t go our way. We have work to do. If we want to get to the final and compete in the final, we’ve got a lot of work to do. With that being said, I want to thank the girls for their time and effort and thank the seniors for giving us everything they had and raising the bar in this program.”