Last spring, the Montesano Bulldogs girls soccer program had a meeting coming off a fourth-place finish at the WIAA 1A State Tournament in the fall to determine what areas needed improvement.
The top takeaway from that meeting was the need for better conditioning.
So head coach Fidel Sanchez and his staff put the Bulldogs through their paces this season, instituting a vigorous training regiment hoping to see the results translate to the field.
On Thursday evening, the results were obvious.
Montesano played near-perfect soccer en route to a 6-1 victory over the Black Hills Wolves at Jack Rottle Field in Montesano.
Monte (5-1 overall) was led by junior forward Mikalya Stanfield, who had four goals in the game and benefited from a Bulldogs attack that had its way with the Black Hills defense.
But as good as Monte was on Thursday, it was Black Hills that struck first.
A long ball forward was chased down by Monte junior goal keeper Riley Timmons, who got a foot on the ball to send it further downfield. The loose ball found the foot of Wolves senior midfielder Bailey Lee, who sent the return into the open net for a 1-0 lead in the third minute.
“(The coaches) wanted to see how we would respond to that,” Stanfield said of the Wolves’ early goal. “We turned it around and said, ‘We’re not going to let that happen again.’ … We used our wanting to win this game to push through that.”
Montesano responded to the challenge in emphatic fashion.
The Bulldogs tied the game in the 10th minute when senior midfielder Hannah Bruland sent a feed to Stanfield, who hit a shot off the crossbar and in from 20 yards out to tie the game at 1-all.
Later in the first half, Montesano’s speed and conditioning began to take its toll on the Wolves defense, scoring three goals in seven minutes.
Monte began to pick apart Black Hills with deep runs down the wings that led to dangerous crosses to the box in addition to well-timed through passes up the middle as the Bulldogs consistently outran the Wolves.
A run down the wing and cross from junior midfielder Alayna Olsen to Stanfield led to a goal in the 28th minute and was followed with a goal just two minutes later when senior forward Anabelle Estrada sent a through ball to Stanfield, who collided with a defender, got up off the ground, collected the ball and scored for a 3-1 lead.
Estrada then outran the Wolves defense down the sideline and sent a cross to sophomore midfielder Sam Roundtree for a point-blank shot and score that put Monte up 4-1 in the 34th minute.
In the second half, Monte midfielder Vanna Prom broke up the far side and sent a pass toward Stanfield, who ripped a hard shot past Wolves keeper Carissa Gibbs for a 5-1 lead.
Monte would complete the scoring late in the game, when junior midfielder Bethanie Henderson scored off an assist from Roundtree in the 80th minute.
Black Hills (2-3-1), which was coming off a 1-0 win over Aberdeen earlier in the week, was outshot by Montesano 14-3, with eight Bulldogs shots on-goal.
Monte was tested by a Wolves offense that was able to counter-attack and penetrate deep into the Bulldogs defensive third. But Monte defenders had a sparkling game as well, holding Black Hills to just three shots, including a leaping two-handed save from Timmons on a blistering shot that was destined for the top of the net in the first half.
“We want to move the ball as fast as possible. As fast as we run, that’s how fast we want the ball to move,” Sanchez said of the victory. “What you see here is what we emphasize in practice. Move the ball, run in space, find each other, be unselfish and if you don’t have the shot, give it to somebody else, and that’s what you saw today.”
“We grind in practice and (Thursday’s victory) just showed how our work is paying off,” Stanfield said. “Conditioning, all the touches we put in practice, our passing patterns showed, and Riley had some great saves so that was cool to see.”
After the game, Sanchez commended his team’s performance and emphasized how the extra conditioning has “paid off in the game.”
“It feels really good to see the team come together tonight,” he told his team. “Everybody played well.”
Montesano will have more conditioning to do in between games as the Bulldogs won’t take the field again until a matchup at 7 p.m. on Tuesday against league-rival Tenino in Tenino.
After seeing the results on Thursday, Stanfield said the team is less likely to dread the tiring practice sessions.
“It really just encourages us that (the conditioning) is paying off,” she said. “Before we would see it, but now we are really starting to see how much it is paying off.”
Aberdeen 5, Rochester 0
Aberdeen dominated in cruising to a 5-0 win over Rochester on Thursday at Stewart Field in Aberdeen.
The Bobcats (3-1, 2-1 2A Evergreen) opened up a lead when senior forward Maddi Gore scored in the second minute of the contest.
Gore then assisted senior midfielder Aman Cheema, who made it a 2-0 game with a hard shot from 20 yards out.
Leading 2-0 at the half, Aberdeen made it 3-0 when Gore headed in a Cheema corner kick in the 44th minute.
Four minutes later, defender Scotlyn Lecomte hit a long shot from 25 yards out for a 4-0 lead followed by a goal from Zoe Troeh — after a pass from Lecomte — on a low shot from 18 yards out in the final two minutes of the game.
“We passed the ball better tonight, won the ball aggressively and were able to combine going forward for some excellent scoring opportunities,” said Bobcats head coach Larry Fleming, who cited the play of goal keeper Dom Trevino, Gore, Cheema and senior midfielder Andrea Meraz.
Aberdeen will face Tumwater at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in Tumwater.
Onalaska 2, Ocosta 1
Ocosta came up one goal short in a non-league loss to Onalaska on Wednesday in Westport.
Ocosta (2-3-1) took the early lead when Miki Ness scored on a penalty kick in the 10th minute.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead into the half as Ocosta keeper Mia Saunders made eight saves over the first 40 minutes.
Ocosta, playing without any substitutes, saw its lead fall the by the wayside when the Loggers (2-1-2) scored goals in the 52nd and 64th minutes.
“This was an intense game against a quality opponent that will help us in league. We could see them again at district,” said Ocosta head coach Mike King, who cited the play of Taeler Jardine, Gabby Ness and Kennedy Reynolds on defense. “I was really impressed by our hustle and improvement we’ve been showing. To go out and play a tough team without subs says a lot about the girls’ heart and determination.”
Ocosta will face Forks at 6 p.m. on Monday in Forks.