The Meridian High School girls soccer team traveled a long way – literally – to reach the first round of the state playoffs.
The Trojans drove 250 miles Wednesday to Vancouver, home of the King’s Way Christian Knights. En route, the Trojans stopped in a Safeway parking lot in Lakewood to grab some snacks and stretch their legs.
Coach Terri Tigert saw it as one last opportunity to practice a play Meridian has been working on all year. Senior defender Emily Kooiman was getting called for hand balls when she would attempt to shoulder the ball in off corner kicks.
Little did Tigert know that 20 minutes into the Class 1A State first-round match that stop would prove to be the difference.
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Tigert said her forwards pressured King’s Way, forcing the Knights to play the ball out of bounds. Payton Lunde found Kooiman on the ensuing corner kick, and Kooiman rose and delivered the ball off her shoulder and inside the far post to give Meridian a 1-0 win.
“I told her today she’s just gotta move her shoulder,” Tigert said. “It definitely paid off for us to work on that before.”
The Knights suffered their second loss and only the fifth goal they have allowed this year. The Trojans’ back line had to work to slow the reigning 1A Trico League MVP, sophomore MacKenzie Ellertson.
Tigert said the stop in Lakewood also helped spark her team.
“The energy was just so high after that, and it carried into the game,” Tigert said. “The bench was so loud, and I can’t stress enough how composed our back played.”
Meridian will now play Overlake on Saturday, Nov. 12, at Interlake High. The Trojans were eliminated in bi-districts last year by Overlake 2-0.
“We don’t know much about Overlake yet, just that they beat us last year,” Tigert said. “The girls are saying they’re out for revenge and that this is our year.”