Odd goals, yes. Fluke goals, no.
That was how the coaches summed up Sehome’s three “weird goals” in the Mariners’ 3-1 win over Meridian on Thursday, Oct. 9, in a Northwest Conference matchup of young girls’ soccer teams with definite state tournament aspirations.
“When you have a goalie (Sydney Gospodinovich) as good as Meridian has, you kind of have to have weird goals,” said Sehome coach Andria Fountain, who has seldom had as many unorthodox goals in the same game in her nine seasons with the Mariners.
Meridian coach Terry Tigert readily agreed.
“They were not fluke goals, but they were weird goals,” she said.
“But I’ve got to give it to Sehome. They were going 100 percent, using any and every part of their bodies (to advance the ball). Sometimes we struggle with following passes,” Tigert said. “But we gave it our all the whole time. Everyone on our team hustled the entire match.”
Meridian’s goal wasn’t exactly ordinary, either.
The Trojans took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when Sehome goalkeeper Nicole Carlson blocked a smashing attempt by Payton Lunde, but Janessa Murphy was right there to push home the rebound.
Tigert said it was the eighth goal of the season for the fleet Murphy, one of Meridian’s three senior starters. Likewise, Sehome started only three seniors with one of Fountain’s youngest lineups.
In the 33rd minute, in the wake of a lot of spirited midfield back-and-forth, Sehome junior midfielder Andrea Zucchi tied the game at 1-1 when she drove and hit the top of the bar. Instead of bouncing back, the ball spun just inside the goal mouth, although the ball did not hit the back net.
But that was only the start of an unusual struggle in which both Meridian (7-2-1 overall, 5-1-1 NWC) and Sehome (6-3-2, 5-1-2) displayed plenty of postseason potential.
Only three minutes later, Sehome took a 2-1 lead when junior midfielder Bryce Sherif launched a powerful corner kick just beyond the left corner of the cage. Junior midfielder Abby Webster ran right toward the ball and cleverly used her left instep to make a lightning shot that Gospodinovich had no chance to stop.
“We all have our runs (on corner kicks), but we switch them up,” said the right-footed Webster, who is inspired by how well her sister, Western Washington University freshman Emily Webster, is performing for the Vikings on the pitch. “I never really expected the ball to come to me on that play, but I have done that play before.”
What Webster may not have done before, however, was apply a touch just deft enough to the ball close enough to the goalie to force a diving attempt at a save.
In this case, Gospodinovich went all-out with a dive to try to stop Webster’s shot. But while the sophomore keeper was on the turf, Devin Grahn received credit for the goal — and Webster for an assist — when Grahn alertly nudged the ball into the net in the 64th minute.
“I thought it was lucky,” said Grahn of what Fountain counted as her sixth goal. “I was running. Abby shot it and I was just kind of there.”
Like Grahn, Webster wasn’t sure of her numbers.
“Five goals and five assists,” Fountain said. “Hey, I kind of like it when the players aren’t sure (of their stats). It shows how focused they are on the team.”
Gospodinovich wound up with six saves. Sehome’s two goalies, sophomores Nicole Carlson and Camryn Ranson, each played a half and combined for six saves with solid efforts.
Meridian forced Carlson to make four saves in the first 20 minutes, but the Mariners gradually took charge and denied the Trojans’ three seniors their first win over Sehome.
“We tied Sehome last year 1-1 and it meant so much for our girls that you would have thought we had just won the Super Bowl,” Meridian assistant Kurt Lunde said.
Fountain said the Mariners continue to improve.
“We played awfully well in our 2-0 win over Sedro-Woolley in our previous game” said Fountain, who played all 19 available girls against the Trojans. “If we bring our A game the rest of the season …”
The Mariners still have a shot at sweeping their final four games (including Oct. 23 against league-leading Squalicum) and earning a No. 1 seed for 2A districts.
Meanwhile, the Trojans, with five games left, are closing in on the No. 1 seed for 1A districts.
The Mariners also received frequent field control from midfielders Fiona Dawson, Christina Funk and Katie Boon-Dooley against the Trojans, who started at least seven sophomores as usual.
Sehome 3, Meridian 1
Goal: Janessa Murphy (M); assist: Payton Lunde; time: 4; Goal: Andrea Zucchi (S); time: 33; Goal: Abby Webster (S); assist: Bryce Sherif; time: 36; Goal: Devin Grahn (S); assist: Webster; time: 64. Shots: Sehome 17, Meridian 10. Goalkeepers (saves): Sehome: Nicole Carlson (4); Camryn Ranson (2); Meridian: Sydney Gospodinovich (6).