LAUREL - One hundred minutes of scoreless soccer against Mount Baker was more than enough for Meridian's girls.
For Trinell Carpenter, the Trojans' fourth-year defender and third-year captain, a guaranteed three more games won't be nearly enough, however, to keep the season going with "the closest team I've been on."
Third-seeded Meridian broke through to score in the 21st minute and went on to a 3-0 loser-out victory over sixth-seeded Mount Baker's feisty young team in the first round of the eight-team Northwest District Class 1A Tournament on Wednesday, Oct. 24. Five days earlier, Meridian suffered a 1-0 loss to Baker, which starts only two seniors.
"Now we're guaranteed three more games (along with the other three first-round winners)," said Meridian coach Andrea Ames, whose team will face Kings on Friday, Oct. 26, at a time and site to be determined. "We'll play both Friday and Saturday for seeding purposes at the Tri-District Tournament next week."
That's quite a postseason contrast for seniors like Carpenter - lose and see your career end, or get to play at least three more postseason games. And if the Trojans (8-6-3) can win the Northwest District title on Saturday, they'll be guaranteed even more games with a favorable seed.
"Trinell plays with more heart than just about anyone I've seen," said Ames.
Carpenter wasn't about to hog the defensive credit for a performance that limited Mount Baker to two shots. Both came in the early minutes as Meridian goalkeeper Abbi Rautenberg twice denied Baker junior forward India Hines, once with an outstanding save on an angle shot.
"That (the defensive praise for her) is nice of coach to say about me, but I think our whole team played with great heart today," said Carpenter.
The Trojans certainly played with exceptional poise, especially since Mount Baker's freshman goalkeeper, Emily Brandland, followed up her 12-save performance of five days earlier with 10 saves on Wednesday.
"She did a great job, really solid," Ames said of Brandland. "She'll be a very good goalie."
Brandland didn't have much chance to stop Meridian's goal in the 21st minute - a short power shot by sophomore Lexi McKinnon for her 10th goal of the season. The score came off a quick assist in a crowd by junior Janessa Murphy.
Brandland had nine saves in the first 47 minutes. But in the 48th, Meridian junior Taylor Lunde scored through a defensive wall on a 25-yard free kick for her 10th goal of the year.
"I think we worked real well together today," said Murphy, who added a goal in the 77th minute off an assist from the corner by Lunde - her eighth of the season.
Ames couldn't have agreed more.
"We were ice cold last Saturday against Baker," Ames said. "We had 20 shots and couldn't score and they scored on their only shot (a free kick by Jessa Baisden). Today, we got a really outstanding effort from out center-mids, Emily Schwisow and Kendra Holmes. We also moved Taylor Lunde from outside mid to center mid and she played very well."
The coach could say the same of her starting defensive back line, led by Carpenter along with Leyla Marino, Madie Holz and Karissa Culley.
Mount Baker's Brenda Ellis, the veteran girls' basketball coach in her first year with the soccer team, said the Mountaineers (5-10-2) displayed more than their own share of heart.
"Our girls fought hard," said Ellis, whose team will lose seniors Kayla Williams and scoring leader Sarah Finger. "We're young, and we improved steadily through the season."
Playing in a wind chill that created effective temperatures of about 40 degrees, the Trojans' midfielders, who also included seniors Gladys Galiano and Kelsea Clark, plus several effective younger reserves, dominated the action and controlled the tempo.
"If it's two Whatcom County teams in the title game Saturday, we might be able to play that up here," said Ames, when asked if the final - currently scheduled for King's - might be shifted. In other first-round games, Lynden Christian's 6-0 win over Coupeville and Blaine 1-0 victory over South Whidbey enhanced that possibility, since three of the remaining four teams are from the Northwest Conference.
MERIDIAN 3, MOUNT BAKER 0
Scoring: Goal: Lexi McKinnon; assist: Janessa Murphy; time: 21; Goal: Taylor Lunde; time: 48; Goal: Murphy; assist: Lunde; time: 77. Shots on goal: Meridian 16, Mount Baker 2. Goalkeepers (saves): Mount Baker: Emily Brandland (10); Meridian: Abbi Rautenberg (2).