LYNDEN - Mikki Jansma calmly jogged her way to the 18-yard box, placed the ball down and booted a shot left past the outstretched arms of Blaine goalkeeper Anna Hewitt to send the Lyncs to the Class 1A District title game.
It's been three years since LC has dealt with a shootout, but coach Brent De Ruyter's club handled the pressure like seasoned veterans.
"For our girls to execute when they were flat out gassed shows a lot of heart," De Ruyter said. "Really, this is what playoff soccer is all about. Both teams battled so hard."
After a late Blaine equalizer, neither team could score in extra time despite chances by each side. Lynden Christian's Sara Dougan, Courtney Hollander, Lexi Vander Griend and Jansma converted their shots in the shootout, as the Lyncs won a thrilling Class 1A District Tournament semifinal 2-2 (4-2 shootout) on Friday, Oct. 26, at rainy Lynden Christian.
Following Dougan's first successful kick, LC freshman goalkeeper Karibeth Engelsma leaned to her right and blocked Olivia Olason's shot to give the Lyncs an early advantage. Blaine fell to a 2-0 hole after Hollander beat Hewitt to the right and Borderites' Liz Berry sent her kick sailing over the crossbar.
Blaine crept back, though, following a miss from LC's Haley Hollander and a goal into the bottom right corner of the net by Nicole Statham. Vander Griend and Blaine's Hope Wilkett exchanged goals, which set the stage for Jansma's kick.
The Lyncs charged Jansma in celebration once they realized she made the game winner.
"Last year, when I played for Meridian, we lost in a shootout in the playoffs," Dougan said. "It was so frustrating. It's the exact opposite what I'm feeling right now."
On the opposite side of midfield, where players lined up to watch the shootout, Blaine stood stunned by the end result.
"I thought we put together a solid game," Blaine coach Dan Steelquist said. "I've never worked with a group of girls who are so committed to the team thing. I'm proud of my girls. I thought we played well together. We were that close."
Lynden Christian put 12 shots on frame opposed to Blaine's three, but the Borderites made the most of their opportunities and struck first.
In the 11th minute, Berry played in a perfect lead ball to Wilkett from just behind the midfield stripe. The senior forward out-sprinted the Lyncs' defense for the ball, collected, and blasted a shot past Engelsma to put Blaine up early 1-0. It was Wilkett's 11th goal of the season.
Four minutes later, LC responded.
Dougan lined up a free kick from roughly 40 yards out and sent a shot left to right at the far post. Hewitt bobbled the ball, and it dribbled into the back of the net to tie the match.
"I really don't know," said Dougan, when asked how she got her shot to go in. "I've been (taking free kicks) all year, but I just thank God I had the ability to do that."
Haley put LC in front in the 31st minute. She found her way to the ball in the middle of a scrum inside Blaine's box following a corner kick from Dougan. The Lynden Christian freshman poked the ball past Hewitt from eight yards out.
Despite the two goals in regulation, Hewitt was a key reason the Borderites reached extra time. She braved shot after shot from Lynden Christian's forwards.
"She is probably the hardest working athlete I have ever coached," Steelquist said of his keeper. "She is active in the back, and she's always talking. She has great technique and, on top of that, she stops shots really well."
Hewitt allowed Blaine to get back into the game. In the 67th minute, Borderites' Ashley Quesada received a pass on a cross and buried a shot high past Engelsma.
Both teams nearly found the back of the net in extra time. Berry almost scored on a breakaway in the opening minutes of the first extra period, and Courtney narrowly missed on a shot that ricocheted off the cross bar. Neither team scored, which set up the dramatic finish.
"There is resolve here," De Ruyter said. "Even in overtime, they came off the field and said, 'We're going to kicks, right? Yep, we are, OK.' There were no nerves, no giddiness. They just lined up at the half. That (last year) state experience does help immensely."
The Lyncs play King's for the district title at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at King's. Blaine faces Meridian at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, at Civic Stadium for seeding in the Class 1A Tri-District Tournament.
Reach Andrew Lang at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 360-756-2862.
LYNDEN CHRISTIAN 3, BLAINE 2 (SO)
Scoring: Goal: Hope Wilkett (Blaine), assist: Liz Berry, time: 11; Goal: Sara Dougan (Lynden Christian), time: 15; Goal: Haley Hollander (Lynden Christian), assist: Sara Dougan, time: 31; Goal: Ashley Quesada (Blaine), time: 67 Shots on goal: Lynden Christian 12; Blaine 3. Goalies (saves): Lynden Christian: Karibeth Engelsma (1); Blaine: Anna Hewitt (9).
Reach ANDREW LANG at email@example.com or call ext. 862.