The Bellingham girls soccer team did not give up a goal in the first two round of the Class 2A State Playoffs.
Time to pack your bags for Shoreline and the state Final Four, right?
Unfortunately, in the often heart-breaking world of playoff soccer, no. Despite a terrific quarterfinal effort against the defending state champions Saturday at Vancouver’s Kiggins Bowl, the Red Raiders found themselves on the short end of a shootout against Columbia River after a scoreless tie through regulation and two five-minute overtime periods.
Katie Lee ended up scoring the winning penalty kick for Columbia River after goalie Liz Canton made a save.
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“I thought our girls played fantastic,” Bellingham coach Jared Fields said. “It’s weird not giving up a goal in the state tournament and not moving on, but that’s the way it is.”
Bellingham (15-4-2) nearly broke the scoreless tie in the closing minutes of regulation, when the ball ended up in the back of the Chieftains’ net with about five minutes left following a mad scramble in the box. But the goal was waved off by a foul call against Bellingham.
“It’s how the referee called it,” Fields said. “It’s a tough blow, but something we have to live with.”
Both teams had chances throughout, though Fields said his defense played a tremendous game. Mia Ludwig was in net, and she got a big game from her back line that included Tessa Perry, Alexa Mee, Elizabeth Lewis-Clarke, Lucy Mantha and Kylie Kruhlak.
“They were good all game,” Fields said. “They did a good job of not giving Columbia River any good looks at our net.”
Fields also said he was impressed with the way his team attacked and pressed the Chieftains, something they “hadn’t had many teams try to do against them.”
Bellingham will graduate four seniors off its roster, including Mantha, goal keeper Britney Butcher, midfielder Allison Krell and forward Peyton Schwinger.
“I think world of them,” Fields said. “They gave everything and gave their heart and soul to this program. They played the right way and are such role models for our young girls.”
With 17 returning players that saw significant playing time off a team that won its first Northwest Conference title since 2006 and advanced to state for the first time since 2013, Fields also is encouraged about the future for his program.
“I’m really proud of how far this team has come from last year, and I’m enthusiastic about the future,” Fields said.