The first round in the battle of East County heavyweights went to the Bulldogs.
Lilly Causey scored two goals, including the eventual game-winner early in the second half, as Montesano edged Elma 2-1 on Tuesday at Jack Rottle Field in Montesano.
In a matchup of two Harbor teams expected to contend for spots in the state tournament, Monte (8-1 overall, 3-0 1A Evergreen) struck the first blow early in the first half.
Bulldogs junior forward/midfielder Mikayla Stanfield sent a cross toward Causey, who was able to deflect the ball past Elma keeper Emmie Spencer and into the net for the game’s opening goal in the fourth minute of play.
But Elma responded immediately.
Eagles (8-2, 2-1) sophomore forward Miley Seaberg sent a pass toward leading goal scorer Beta Valentine, who split two Monte defenders and ripped a shot past Bulldogs keeper Riley Timmons to tie the game in the fifth minute.
The game remained at 1-1 throughout the first half as the two teams battled in the midfield with each having a handful of opportunities on offensive possessions into the opposing third.
In the second half, Monte regained the lead with Stanfield made a sparkling run down the sideline then turned on a dime to elude her defender. The reigning league MVP then sent a cross toward the front of the Elma net.
Causey once again got a body part on the ball, jarring it away from Spencer, and into the back of the net for a 2-1 lead just over 10 minutes into the second half.
“(The coaches) tell us to follow through and always follow the ball. It slipped through and I shot it,” Causey said of her game-winning goal. “You have to time your run and that’s what I tried to do. I think it was pretty good timing.”
“It was a great layoff by (Montesano midfielder) Bethanie Henderson, which allowed me to make the run down the side and just getting the cross off was the big thing there,” Stanfield said of her assist. “You just got to read the defense and see what runs your teammates are making.”
Over the final 30 minutes, Elma had its chances to tie the game, including a through ball by Seaberg that Timmons had trouble corralling after colliding with her own defender. Valentine, who was lurking just a few yards away from the play, raced over to try to get a foot on the loose ball but was unsuccessful as Monte defender Emily Schallon was able to sweep the ball out of danger, pushing back Elma’s best scoring chance of the second half.
Monte continued to compete at midfield the rest of the way, holding Elma in its own half over the final few minutes to secure the victory and sit alone in the top spot in the 1A Evergreen League standings with the 2-1 victory.
“I think it’s a little check to remind us that we are not always going to get those big wins,” Causey said. “We knew Elma was a big match for us so we went in knowing that and it was going to be a close game.”
The two juggernauts managed just nine total shots between them for the game, with Monte holding a 6-3 shot advantage and a 3-1 edge in shots on-goal.
In speaking with both team’s head coaches after the game, neither felt as though their respective squads played its best brand of soccer.
“I’m proud of the team how we responded right away after we went down early, but I really think we beat ourselves today,” Elma head coach Evan Valentine said. “We made the mistakes, in my mind. Monte is a very good team and I give them all the credit, but we made the mistakes that got us beat and we can clean that up.”
“We just got to be better on the ball. Our decision-making was not good tonight and that’s why we struggled in the final third,” said Monte head coach Fidel Sanchez, noting that while he’s happy with the win, his team struggled with possession in the final third. “That’s basically what it comes down to. We did not make good choices on the ball tonight and I thought we were getting beat too many times on our decision-making, on our 1-versus-1 and we just can’t make excuses. We just have to play better. I’ve seen this team play a lot better. Not to take anything away from Elma, they defended with a lot of defenders in front of the ball and that’s hard to break down.”
The win gives Monte a one game lead over the Eagles for first place in league with five league games left on the schedule.
Monte hosts district-foe King’s Way Christian at 7 p.m. on Thursday while Elma plays at Eatonville at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The two teams are set to meet each other again at 7 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20 at Davis Field in Elma.
Aberdeen 1, Centralia 1 (AHS 4-3 on penalty kicks)
Aberdeen overcame a long layoff to defeat Centralia 4-3 in a penalty-kick shootout on Tuesday in Centralia.
Aberdeen head coach Larry Fleming’s best laid plans went to waste after giving his team Friday off and expecting fresh legs for a Monday practice, but due to a social media threat that caused the Aberdeen School District to shut down all school-related activities on Monday, the Bobcats entered Tuesday’s game four days removed from their last practice.
According to Fleming, it showed on the field as the Bobcats “demonstrated a lot of hustle, but very little precise technique” in the victory.
Centralia (2-7, 2-4 2A Evergreen) got on the board first, scoring in the 18th minute when Olivia Gruginski scored off a Trinity Smith assist.
Aberdeen (5-2, 4-2) responded when Annie Troeh was fouled from 30-yards out, earning the Bobcats a free kick. Senior midfielder Aman Cheema tied the game up on the free kick just before halftime.
The game remained scoreless through the second half and both overtime periods, sending the game into a penalty-kick shootout.
In the shootout, Centralia’s first attempt hit the left post and Aberdeen senior keeper Dom Trevino saved another Tigers attempt to put the Bobcats in great position for the win.
Aberdeen shooters Maddi Gore, Marina Marll, Cheema and Troeh each converted their attempts to give the Bobcats the 4-3 shootout victory.
“Our defense was solid but we were not sharp in any other aspects,” said Fleming, who cited Aili Scott for her defense and Abby Mainio’s play off the bench. “We will get back to practice and improve on our first touch and passing.”
Centralia had 11 shots to 10 for the Bobcats.
Aberdeen hosts Hoquiam at 6 p.m. on Saturday at Stewart Field.
The Aberdeen JV team tied Centralia JV 1-1 on Tuesday afternoon. Miley Anderson scored a goal for the Cats while Esmerelda Vega and Lila Ericksen were cited for their play by Aberdeen assistant coach Lindsey Scott.
Hoquiam 0, Eatonville 0 (EHS 4-2 on penalty kicks)
Hoquiam and Eatonville battled to a scoreless tie throughout regulation and overtime, but two misses in a penalty-kick shootout proved costly for the Grizzlies in a 4-2 PK shootout loss on Tuesday in Hoquiam.
The Grizzlies (1-3-2, 0-2 1A Evergreen) and Cruisers (4-3, 1-1) were tied at 2-2 in the shootout until the next two Hoquiam shots were off-target.
Eatonville converted its chances to secure the victory.
“We are right there on the edge of breaking through and once these girls find that breakthrough in our finishing, they will definitely be a threat,” Hoquiam head coach John Johnson said. “All the components are there for our girls to do great. We just have to really capitalize on the opportunities we make.”
Hoquiam will play at the Black Top in Tenino at 7 p.m. on Thursday.