Meridian girls' soccer beats defending state champs, advances to state

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDNovember 7, 2013 

Meridian girls' soccer overcame strong winds and hard rain to beat University Prep in penalty kicks on Thursday, Nov. 7, in Orting. The Trojans won the penalty shootout 5-4, to give them the 1-0 win over the defending Class 1A State Champions, and a berth into the state playoffs.

Taylor Lunde scored the deciding goal as the Trojans' fifth shot-taker, as University Prep's second shooter hit the post.

"Taylor had hurt her ankle with five minutes left in regulation, but wanted to go back in," Meridian coach Andrea Ames said in a phone interview. "She went in for the last few minutes of overtime, then ended up making the game-winning kick on a bad ankle. She might have even taken the shot with her other foot."

Taylor Lunde's injured ankle was just one more hurdle for Meridian to overcome in a game very affected by the weather conditions. Whichever team had the wind at their back had a distinct advantage, Ames said.

"In the first half we had the wind with us and dominated play, possessed the ball, and had lots of opportunities," Ames said. "In the second half, we played against the wind. When you shot the ball it would almost come right back at you. ... It was a lot more of a defensive battle for us in the second."

Despite having the elements against them in the second half, the Trojans and goalkeeper Sydney Gospodinovich held strong, as she saved every single one of University Prep's seven shots.

"We battled and never quit," Ames said. "I knew our chances would be good if we got to penalty kicks."

Ames had faith in her penalty kick lineup of Riley Zapien, Payton Lunde, Haley Belanger, Emily Schwisow and Taylor Lunde, and they each exceeded her expectations. She said no one shot stood out in the penalty kicks, as each of the Meridian players executed on their attempt.

"They all absolutely drilled them," she added. "None of them were even deflected, they were all just buried in the net."

With the win, Meridian will take on the No. 1 seed out of District 4, but Ames likes her team's chances.

"We get such good competition in the tri-district tournament and in the regular season playing all the 2A teams (in the Northwest Conference)," she said. "I fully expect us to win that game."

Meridian 1, University Prep 0 (5-4 PK)

Shots on goal: Meridian 5; University Prep 7. Goalies (saves) Meridian: Sydney Gospodinovich (7); University Prep: Rebecca Hasle (5).

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