The shootout has been a staple of Meridian’s girls’ soccer team’s 2014 playoffs. All three of the Trojans playoff games before Wednesday, Nov. 12, went to kicks from the mark.
The Trojans broke that streak Wednesday and they couldn’t be more pleased about it.
“It feels really good not to go into a shootout finally and just to get it over with,” Meridian coach Terry Tigert said.
Once state rolls around, every team strives to be playing its best soccer captained by its best players.
Meridian showed just how dangerous it is at peak performance in a 3-1 win over Seattle Christian on Wednesday at French Field in the Class 1A state tournament.
It started quickly and with authority for the Trojans and it was headed by the same players who have led the team all year.
In the 12th minute, Janessa Murphy, who is the second-leading goalscorer for the Trojans, calmly put one into the back of the net off a pass from Payton Lunde, who leads the team in goals, to make it 1-0.
“I knew their goalie is really good,” Murphy said. “I thought just small passes into the corner might have got her. …It worked out.”
It was a classic example of why Meridian coach Terry Tigert believes in her forwards and a demonstration of the trust the two wings have for one another.
On Monday night, Nov. 10, Terry Tigert said the two teammates just know the other person is going to be there, they don’t have to communicate.
“I know she’s always on the other side and I know she’s going to be there when I kick it in,” Murphy confirmed Wednesday night. “I trust her a lot.”
The second goal of the night for the Trojans couldn’t have confirmed that notion more effectively.
In the 27th minute, Murphy sent a cross around the backline of the Seattle Christian defense and who other than Lunde was there with a perfectly timed run to snag it and put it past the goalkeeper.
“I thought it was so ironic that we just talked about that connection and they do have that connection. It’s there. It’s not just us talking about it, it shows on the field.
Excitement grew in the 39th minute when Lunde scored her second of the night to make it 3-0.
The goal stemmed from Ryley Zapien successfully battling for the ball 20 yards out and delivering the pass to Lunde.
A strong half showed a style of play that Meridian has been missing in the playoffs – playing on the ground.
The Trojans controlled the game in possession and instead of long through balls to their speedy wings, Meridian kept the ball on the ground and that’s a good thing, Tigert said.
That’s not to mention, “finally finishing our opportunities,” Tigert exclaimed.
It also went to show just how much Murphy has progressed as a soccer player. She’s always been fast and certainly an excellent track and field star. Now, she can start to be considered a star soccer forward, especially after producing in the state playoffs.
“Janessa is very fast and she’s become a very soccer-smart player,” Tigert said. “She not only is finishing her opportunities but being where she needs to be at the right time.”
Seattle Christian narrowed the score in the 64th minute when Jacey Childress finished a rebound off the crossbar, beating Sydney Gospodinovich, who made four saves on the night.
The Trojans outshot the Warriors 9-6 on the rather frigid night.
Meridian moves on to face King’s later this week in a state quarterfinal match. The Trojans haven’t made it past the quarterfinals since their 2007 state championship.
“We just have to keep playing to feet, keep communicating and finishing those opportunities,” Tigert said. “We need stay positive and keep working hard for each other and we’ll get there.”
King’s defeated Meridian in a shootout in the District 1 Championship on Nov. 1. Despite the narrow victory just a couple weeks ago, Murphy is confident in her team’s abilities.
“We’re coming in strong,” Murphy said. “That was a really close game last time and I think we can pull out the win.”
MERIDIAN 3, SEATTLE CHRISTIAN 1