Kayla Downs put her best foot forward for Ferndale’s girls’ soccer team, so to speak, even though she didn’t use her best foot.
The right-footed junior, a third-year varsity player, felt she had little choice but to use her left foot to snap a scoreless tie with her first goal of the season on the way to Ferndale’s 3-0 Northwest Conference win over Lynden Christian on Tuesday, Sept. 23.
Shortly after checking into the game, Downs spotted the ball coming her way in the 21st minute on a pass from Leigh Sund.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” Downs said. “I first kicked the ball with my right foot (on her short drive), then I realized I had to try for the goal with my left foot because I didn’t want to take a chance (on being caught by a defender).”
The next two goals for Ferndale (3-2-1 overall, 2-0-0 NWC) were also season firsts.
In the 53rd minute, junior Jillian Monson scored on a short shot off Sund’s second assist. Six minutes later, sophomore Katelyn Neher scored on an unassisted drive.
“We were looking for more scoring (from different forwards and mids),” said Ferndale coach Joe Gonzalez, who noted that his team of defensive stalwarts came in with nine goals, including seven by fourth-year standout forward Jordin Bartel. “That was great to see.”
Gonzalez was impressed by the sheer effort displayed by the young Lyncs (2-2-3, 0-2-1), who have only three seniors.
“LC was scrappy as all get out,” Gonzalez said.
Longtime Lyncs coach Brent De Ruyter said he was especially impressed by how competitive senior defensive leader Sara Dougan, junior midfielder Haley Hollander and junior goalie Karibeth Englesma were.
“They really fought hard,” De Ruyter said.
Englesma used her quick hands and fearless approach to make 10 saves. She frustrated Bartel on at least four shots, including a nifty header that had seemed sure to become Bartel’s eighth goal.
Ferndale’s goalies Tuesday, junior Mckenna Buss and freshman Rachel Neher, each played a half and combined for seven saves in their second appearances in goal this season.
Gonzalez feels he has three quality goalies; multi-sport senior Linsey Honeycutt is the other.
“I have a lot of confidence in all three goalies,” the coach said, adding that there was “no doubt in my mind” that Neher could do the job even though Ferndale led only 1-0 at halftime.
Fourth-year Ferndale defensive standout Carly Bannerman, as usual, displayed one of the most powerful legs in the league. The quick sweeper played hard throughout and received strong support from back-line starters Kylie Larmer, Shelby Slaughter and Jalissa Somers.
Bannerman, in fact, looked as fresh as could be while displaying a few fancy defensive maneuvers in the final minute to help preserve the shutout.
Ferndale, which hopes to improve on last year’s 0-2 at Class 3A districts, became the first team this season to shut out the Lyncs, who came in with 15 goals and 14 scores allowed. It was the second consecutive NWC shutout and third overall for the Golden Eagles, who have allowed six goals.
Ferndale next welcomes Bellingham on Thursday, Sept. 25, while LC faces host Lynden on the same day.
Ferndale 3, Lynden Christian 0
Goal: Kayla Downs; assist: Leigh Sund; time: 21. Goal: Jillian Monson; assist: Sund; time: 53. Goal: Katelyn Neher; time: 59. Shots: Ferndale 22, Lynden Christian 10. Goalkeepers (saves): Ferndale: Mckenna Buss (3); Rachel Neher (4); LC: Karibeth Englesma (10).