As Lynden scoring standouts Kali Spady and Peyton Fullner and freshman goalie Keylie Hershey pretty much said together with palpable joy, “We have fans now! People are coming to see us.”
And why not? At long last, the girls’ soccer team proved to its followers that the Lions were good enough to win in the Class 2A district tournament. And with their ninth consecutive victory, no less.
Spady enjoyed her first three-goal game and Fullner had a goal and two assists while Hershey was flawless in Lynden’s 4-0 win over Mountlake Terrace on Saturday, Oct. 29, at Civic Stadium.
It was the first district win ever for the second-seeded Lions (11-5-1), who will play in the semifinals on Tuesday, Nov. 1, at 7 p.m. on the same pitch, seeking to clinch their first state tournament berth against Sehome, a 3-1 winner over Bellingham later Saturday.
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If the Lions – who beat Sehome 3-2 in the Northwest Conference season –– lose, they will still have a state tournament shot in the consolation bracket of the double-elimination event.
‘OUT OF THE SHADOWS’
Even on a cloudy day, it was appropriate when third-year coach Carlos Melendez said, “We’ve always been in the shadows. Last year (when the Lions went 0-2 at district) was our first district appearance.”
Melendez saw his young team, which has four seniors, start the season 2-5-1 before going on a nine-game win streak, during which the Lions have outscored opponents 37-7.
Hershey, a multi-sport athlete who had always played in the field, was switched to goalkeeper after the first five games to take advantage of her skills and leadership.
“I felt it was what the team needed,” she said of the day Melendez asked her to switch. Hershey’s six saves and her sixth shutout showed why the coach made the move.
“Keylie’s just a fine athlete,” Melendez said. “The team’s confidence rose with her in goal.”
THREE GOALS AND A STRAWBERRY
The fearless Spady, who hopes to win a state girls’ wrestling title, performed like a champion even though she had a painful bright red “strawberry” on her upper right leg, the result of so much sliding on the pitch.
After Fullner opened the scoring with her 10th goal, a power shot from the 25-yard line on an assist by Isabelle Jacob in the first 10 minutes, Spady powered home a goal about 20 minutes later on Fullner’s assist.
Eleven minutes into the second half, Spady took an assist from Lily Bogart for a textbook power goal. Four minutes later, Spady took another sharp pass from Fullner to wrap it up with 25 minutes to play. It was Spady’s seventh goal of the season.
VANZANTEN LEADS DEFENSE
Sophomore sweeper Ali VanZanten, who was all-league as a freshman, received praise from Melendez for her usual defensive leadership. Mya Sires, freshman Laurie Kingma, Erin Fiebig and Bogart also were solid in key defensive roles and never wilted. The Hawks (7-9-2) were limited to 11 shots, with help from Lions midfielders Abby Stevenson and Sierra Smith and the usual frequent substitutions Melendez uses to keep everyone as fresh as possible.