Even though a golden goal by King’s denied Lynden Christian a tantalizing opportunity to win its first district girls soccer title, the Lyncs nevertheless appeared to prove worthy of the state tournament.
“I would agree with that,” Lyncs coach Brent DeRuyter said in the wake of LC’s 3-2 overtime loss in the championship game of the Class 1A Northwest District Tournament on Saturday at Orca Field.
After freshman Emily Mellema shocked the Knights with goals one minute apart early in the first half, LC was only 16 minutes away from becoming the first 1A team to beat King’s this season.
But King’s (11-7-0), a top seed along with LC (9-6-3), pulled a stunning fast act of its own, scoring in the 64th and 66th minutes to set up the golden goal situation in overtime.
As a result, the young Lyncs, who have two starting seniors, must again play well Thursday in their first bi-district tournament game at 5 p.m. at Sultan against an opponent to be determined. If the Lyncs lose, they will play a loser-out game Saturday in their bid to earn their first state berth since 2010.
One minute and 41 seconds into overtime, King’s senior leader Katie Stella scored on a drive to spoil a solid effort in goal by LC freshman Ellie VanHulzen, who had all six of her saves in the first half.
After 63 minutes of scoreless soccer for King‘s – but seemingly countless bodies on the field for both teams in a most physical match-up – Callie Wright and Stella scored on short power drives two minutes apart.
“We went flat for a short time after their first goal,” DeRuyter said. “It developed into a (sudden) drop-ball situation called by the ref (to start the sequence) and she (Wright) was aware of it but we weren’t.”
In the 11th minute, Mellema converted on a nifty pass from Lyncs scoring and assist leader Libby Hielkema, a junior whom DeRuyter noted has been offered a scholarship by defending national champion Western Washington’s powerhouse program.
One minute later, Mellema stunned the Knights with her eighth goal of the season.
“I’ve never had a player score twice that fast,” DeRuyter said.
DeRuyter expressed pride in Hielkema, whom he now lists with 12 goals and 12 assists.
“We played well but I wouldn’t say it was our best game,” said DeRuyter, whose Lyncs came in with 44 goals, 22 allowed and four shutouts. “We thwarted a lot of opportunities for a real good attacking team.”
King’s entered with 61 goals and 24 allowed, with all but three goals by teams higher than 1A. Meridian, hich finished third in the district tournament with a 5-0 win over Nooksack Valley, lost 5-3 to the Knights earlier in the tournament.