After fighting through the Class 2A bi-district tournament as a No. 10 seed, winning one elimination game on penalty kids and another in overtime, the Lynden girls soccer team’s ride came to an end Wednesday with a 4-1 loss to Spokane West Valley in the first round of the 2A state playoffs.
“It’s disappoing to come this far and have to walk away,” Lions assistant coach Phil Stevenson said, “but we can’t complain about the way our season went.”
Lynden (7-11-3) couldn’t convert some early scoring opportunities in the first half, Stevenson said, “and the momentum shifted in the other direction.”
Stevenson said West Valley played a physical style and was able to control play in the middle of the field.
The Eagles ended up scoring the first goal on a breakaway and added two more before Sierra Smith scored off an assist from Ruby VanderHaak in the second half to make it 3-1.
“Sierra Smith is probably the best player we’ve coached, and she displayed some of that specialness today,” Stevenson said. “In her final game, she played with a lot of passion and desire.”
Though the graduation of Smith will be a big loss for the Lions, she is one of only two seniors on Lynden’s roster, along with defender Hannah Rusk. That means the Lions return a strong core of players, many of whom played crucial roles in consecutive runs to the the state playoffs.
Now Lynden wants to focus on going back for a third straight year and earning the team’s first state playoff victory – the Lions have come up short in their first three attempts.
“It’s a great learning experience for a young team,” Stevenson said. “Lots of positive things to build off of.”
Among them, Stevenson said, was the play of junior defender Ali VanZanten and freshman midfielder Ellsie Saldivar Wednesday.