There was nothing discreet about the defensive schemes Burlington-Edison and Ferndale were employing.
The Tigers’ backline shadowed the 5-foot-10 Jordin Bartel’s every movement, clinging to her in such a way that prevented the star senior from having any openings in the second half.
The Golden Eagles used a more simplistic method in marking Burlington’s Edie Breckenridge, having 2013 Northwest Conference Defensive MVP Carly Bannerman mirroring the shifty forward’s every step.
As well-prepared as both teams were in deterring Bartel and Breckenridge from having an impact on their Northwest Conference matchup Tuesday, Oct. 14, at Ferndale High School, some talent is too hard to silence.
Bartel just got a little more help.
Both Breckenridge and Bartel recorded hat tricks in a battle between two of the top teams in the conference, a goal by Katelyn Neher in the 50th minute proving the difference in a 4-3 win for the Golden Eagles.
“They are definitely a tough team, and we knew they were going to be a tough team,” Bartel said. “We knew we needed to come out tough and ready to play that game.”
A heavy sigh of relief accompanied Ferndale’s victory, one that grew more tense following back-to-back goals by Breckenridge in the 55th and 57th minutes that dented the Golden Eagles’ 4-1 lead at the time. Their comfortable win was going by the wayside.
Bannerman, though, who was abused early by Breckenridge, atoned with several key stops in the final 20 minutes that held her at bay just long enough for the final whistle to blow.
“That we can hold on at the end of a game and win,” said Ferndale coach Joe Gonzalez when asked what he’s most excited about in the win. “It’s crucial. There are going to be tight ones at the end of games, and to be able to stay calm and not collapse under pressure, that’s one of the things we’ll take away today.”
Burlington’s defense was quickly and abruptly made aware of Bartel’s talents when she powered a shot into the left-corner of the net 1 minute into the game that spanned 20-plus yards out.
“The goalie was out and I just chipped it over her to the far post,” said Bartel, who is second in the conference with 14 goals.
Breckenridge answered back in the 29th minute, displaying an array of moves and stutter-steps several yards out from the net that gave her just enough space to place a shot between the legs of Rachel Neher.
The back-and-forth between the two elite goal scorers continued, with Bartel adding her second and third goals in the final minutes of the first half to give the Golden Eagles a 3-1 lead going into halftime.
Katelyn Neher’s shot from the backline that slipped through the hands of Burlington’s Jenny Gustafson provided a cushion Ferndale desperately needed in the 50th minute.
Ferndale just wasn’t able to maintain that high level of play.
Some credit should be offered to Breckenridge, her goals in the 55th and 57th minutes offering a platform and stage for the junior to show off her unique talents.
The quick-twitch ball stops and changes of direction would challenge any platoon of defenders, let alone the best defender in the conference.
“She’s definitely a two-person job,” Gonzalez said of Breckenridge. “We learned something about that today.”
Ferndale opened what Gonzalez pegged as its most important week of play with a strong win, edging higher in the conference standings before another key matchup with a top league team in Meridian. The Golden Eagles (7-4-1 overall, NWC 6-2-0) host the Trojans at 4 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 16.
Ferndale 4, Burlington-Edison 3