It’s big news when a local team wins a state championship. It’s even bigger news when it’s one of of your neighbors. Congratulations to the Edmonds-Woodway girls soccer team for winning the 3A state title.
When the State 3A soccer playoff brackets were announced, the Edmonds-Woodway girls knew that to win it,they’d have to beat the number-one, two- and fifth-ranked teams to do it. Saturday afternoon at Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium, the Warriors completed the journey with a 2-1 victory over Southridge of Kennewick. This is not only the first state title for the soccer team, but the first title in any sport for an Edmonds-Woodway team.
“A lot of people talked about how it was a fluke and we didn’t belong here and now we just won state,” defender Ashleigh Fonsen said. “Coach Bill (LeCompte,) said prove it, and we did, “ Rylee Peterson said.
“To come from my freshman year and not know what to expect and then end our senior year with this. I couldn’t even imagine,” Hailey Hull added.
Unlike Friday’s semi-final game, the Warriors wasted no time getting on the board. Not even four minutes into the game, Fonsen launched a free kick from 40 yards on the right side into the box. There, an awaiting Hull caught it in mid air, kicking a half-volley into the left side of the net and the Warriors jumped to an early lead.
“I take a lot of corner kicks and a lot of them are converted, but that one was the most impressive of them all,” Fonsen said.
Added Hull, “To come back from such a terrible injury (torn ACL) and to end up scoring a goal in the championship, I never imagined. I wasn’t even sure I’d even be playing this year.”
Said Madison Schultz of Hull’s goal: “When it was hit, I knew somebody was going to get on the end of it, and it was just so cool that she put it in.”
A few minutes later, the Warriors nearly struck again as Fonsen launched a soaring corner kick that Peterson headed over the goalie, but off the post and the lead would stand at one. “I’d love to have made a goal, but right now I’m just so happy I can’t even think about that,” Peterson said.
At just before the 24-minute mark, Friday’s hero Schultz took a ball down the right side, stopped, and spun to her left and fired a 25-yard hook shot into the far corner, giving E-W a 2-0 lead. Schultz, who scored three goals in the prior game, talked about the shot. “I was just trying to get some space, got it off cleanly and it found its way there.”
The Warriors continued to control possession and with 10 minutes left, Schultz had a clean look from 20 yards out — but her effort sailed high. With the half winding down, Southridge finally got a good look, but the Suns floater off the foot of Kelly Brown landed softly in the awaiting hands of Warrior goalie Kiera Towell, and the Warriors would head to the locker room with a seemingly comfortable 2-0 lead.
The second half saw a different Southridge team emerge and the results were immediate as Brown took a ball that bounced off Towell and fired it past the goalie, narrowing the lead to one. Less than a minute later, the Suns nearly struck again, first having a shot “punch” saved and then nearly converting off the ensuing corner kick.
Seeming to weather the storm, the Warriors began to again experience positive possessions. With just over 21 minutes left, Peterson did a perfect heel flip to Schultz and the forward broke free for a shot from about 20 yards out that struck the cross bar. A couple minutes later, Hull kicked one just over the bar.
As things began to get chippy and tense, Fonsen was called for a yellow card and the resulting free kick for the Suns just sailed over the bar. Southridge continued to press, almost tying it, but Towell again came to the rescue with a tough save on a straight-on shot.
“We gritted it out. The truth is, we look at who we’ve lost to and they are all in the tournament,“ coach LeCompte said. “I told the kids we haven’t arrived. Now we have.”
The Warriors’ last two good chances to score came at just over 2 minutes left when Gabby Clark’s shot bounced off the goalie and nearly trickled in. Schultz also missed just wide right.
Saturday’s game was the last, but certainly not least, for seniors Reimi Peters, Hull, Isabella Meagher, Peterson, Jaclyn Metz, Melissa Long, Sophie Long and Towell.
“They’ve grown as a class through the years. They just wanted to work at it. The ability to do that is just phenomenal, especially at a high school level,” LeCompte said.
“It just feels amazing, incredible. We pulled through and pushed through until the end. I’m so happy,” Peterson said.
E-W’s athletic director Angie McGuire was also visibly moved.” I went here (E-W,) I coached here and now I work here. It’s just so great.”
Added Schultz,” It’s a dream that everyone dreams about and to actually do it, it’s just unreal.”
1st half scoring:
E-W 36 minute mark, Hull from Fonsen
E-W 24 minute mark, Schultz unassisted
2nd half scoring:
SR 38 minute mark, Brown