For the second-consecutive season, the Montesano Bulldogs finished the season as the fourth-best team in the state after two straight losses in the 1A State Tournament’s final four on Friday and Saturday at Shoreline Stadium in Shoreline.
No. 1 Klahowya 3, No. 4 Montesano 0
Montesano’s hope of a state title will have to wait another year as the Bulldogs struggled against Klahowya in a 3-0 loss in a 1A Girls State Soccer Tournament semifinal on Friday in Shoreline.
The fourth-seeded Bulldogs (18-3 overall) found it difficult to get out of their own zone against the top-seeded Eagles (18-1), which held possession and were on the attack throughout the contest.
With better first touches and cleaner ball-handling, Klahowya kept the pressure on Monte’s defense through the first 20 minutes of the game.
The Eagles cashed in on the offensive success when sophomore forward Amira Lyons sent a hard shot that Bulldogs goal keeper Riley Timmons dove to save. The rebound bounced out in front of Timmons, allowing Eagles junior midfielder Alisa Divano — who was trailing the play — to get to the ball against a scrambling Monte defense and place a shot into the open net for a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute.
Despite Klahowya controlling possession and pinning Monte into the Bulldogs half of the field, Monte’s offense showed signs of life late in the half.
Monte sophomore Adda Potts found some room down the seam on a breakaway attempt that was thwarted by the Klahowya defense, recovering to send the ball out of bounds in the 28th minute.
The Bulldogs had a golden opportunity to tie the game with approximately 7:15 to go when a ball in the middle of the Klahowya 18-yard box was deflected horizontally into open space. Junior forward Mikayla Stanfield trailed the play and rushed toward the loose ball, blasting a hard, dangerous shot that sailed just over the corner.
Despite being outshot and outplayed, Monte found itself down just 1-0 at halftime, but that was about to change.
Just three minutes into the second half, some indecision in Monte’s defensive third led to another Eagles goal. A high-bouncing ball fell between three Bulldogs defenders. Klahowya sophomore forward Raven Stoner was aggressive to the ball, gaining possession then ripping a shot past Timmons from approximately 20-yards out for a 2-0 lead.
Monte had a chance to cut the deficit in half when senior forward Belle Estrada sent a well-placed corner kick to the near post, but Eagles keeper Ella Bottalico got to the ball first, punching it away to keep the score at 2-0 with just under 15 minutes left to play.
With Monte pushing numbers forward, Lyons got the ball in the Bulldogs third, shook off two defenders and scored on a left-footed shot past a diving Timmons for a 3-0 lead in the 75th minute, sending Monte to the state’s third/fourth-place game for the second year in a row.
“We had them 1-0 and our plan against them was working because they have been scoring goals on everybody,” Montesano head coach Fidel Sanchez said of the first half. “I thought we did a good job with the game plan, but two huge mistakes cost us.”
The mistakes Sanchez spoke of were not following on a rebound which led to the Eagles’ first goal and not marking up on a player for the second goal.
“It’s those things at that at that level, in those games you have to do everything right and you need to have a little bit of offense along the way. … Mistakes on our part cost us and did us in.”
No. 2 Seattle Academy 3, No. 4 Montesano 0
For the second consecutive season, the Montesano Bulldogs fell short in the state’s third/fourth-place game.
Similar to its state-semifinal matchup against Klahowya the previous day, Montesano was in the game at halftime trailing 1-0, but eventually fell 3-0 to the Seattle Academy of Arts on Satuday in Shoreline.
After second-seed Seattle Academy (14-1-3) got a goal early in the first half from senior Lucy Bishop, Montesano’s defense held the Cardinals scoreless the remainder of the half and began to find a rhythm on offense over the final 15 minutes of the first half.
In the first minute of the second half, Montesano nearly tied the game when junior forward Mikalya Stanfield blasted a shot that beat Cardinals keeper Anica Carpenter, but clanged off the upright to keep Monte’s deficit at 1-0.
Monte (18-4) would get no closer as Seattle Academy scored a goal on a breakaway in the 53rd minute followed by a goal on a header by Isae McNae in the 63rd minute to put the game away.
The Bulldogs — which have been held scoreless in its four state final four games the past two seasons — nearly got on the board late in the game on two separate occasions.
With just under six minutes left in the match, Stanfield found herself with possession down the left hash with Cardinals backup keeper Avery Murch off her line. But a Cardinals defense that didn’t allow a goal in its two final-four games, held firm, kicking the ball out of bounds to avert the threat.
With 4:30 left in the game, Stanfield sent a well-placed through pass to senior forward Lilly Causey behind the Cardinals defensive line, but Murch beat Causey in a foot race to the ball to preserve the shutout.
With the loss, Montesano was awarded the state’s fourth-place trophy for the second consecutive season.
The Bulldogs were without sophomore holding midfielder Addi Kersker who was out after suffering a concussion in the state semifinal as well as having several girls dealing with an illness.
“We had to overcome adversity a little bit. … It was just a bad mixture of unfortunate events,” Sanchez said. “We can’t blame those, we just have to overcome them and play like we can.”
The knowledge and experience gained from now two consecutive appearances in the state’s final four have provided the Bulldogs with information as to what they need to improve on if state-championship glory is to be theirs.
“What we need to improve on at that level is our technical ability,” Sanchez said. “Keeping the ball longer was a struggle for us. We were losing the ball too quick when all season long, we were the ones imposing possession on other teams. At that level, other teams were doing it to us. That’s something we have to improve if we hope to get a higher placement.”
At the conclusion of another outstanding season for Montesano, Sanchez will have much of his team back next season but will have to replace some key players — including second-leading scorer Causey and the bulk of the midfield in Jaiden King, Vanna Prom and Belle Estrada — a midfield group the veteran head coach said was ‘one of the the best I’ve coached in awhile.’”
“The seniors last year set the bar, this team met it,” he said. “I’m just glad the seniors were able to lead like they did last year and keep the program going and recognized as one of the four best teams in the state at the 1A level. … Getting there twice in a row is hard … These girls were able to meet those expectations.”