CASHMERE — The opening 40 minutes looked a little shaky but the Cashmere Bulldogs dialed up the energy in the second half Saturday in their season opener against Montesano.
The Bulldogs erased a two-goal halftime deficit after tallying four goals in a span of 12 minutes and held on to win 4-2 at home.
“It was a tale of two halves,” head coach Dennis Tronson said after the win. “We came out a little flat, which was exactly what we showed in the jamboree on Friday, but we got our feet together. We just stressed getting back to the basics; letting the ball do the work, not dribbling as much and bringing the ball outside to work across the six (yard box).”
The first goal came off the boot of Molly High, who blasted a laser from about 40-yards out to the back corner. Just five minutes later, senior Natalie Dart made a nice run to get behind the Montesano defenders and carried the ball into the box before dropping a pass to Kaitlyn Bjorklund in front of the net for a tap in goal to level the score at 2-2.
Carley Diaz gave Cashmere the lead in the 55th minute, converting a PK following a Montesano handball in the box. Three minutes later, High scored her second goal of the match on an assist from Bjorklund, who received the ball on her own half, drove all the way to the end line and floated a cross to High for an easy header.
While possession might have been more neutral in the first half, Cashmere completely dominated the second. Montesano started to get tired as the game wore on while the Bulldogs kept running. The three-a-days Tronson had put the girls through over the last week had paid off.
“We just found another gear,” Tronson said. “And it was because of the work that they put in every day. There are still some things to correct but I thought our seniors stepped up and I really have to speak highly of our two freshmen, Kora Traynor and Adysen Bjorklund, they went in and instantly made an impact. I love when young players come in and do the job and I think that will be a blessing for us this year, we have a little more depth.”
It was an ideal opener for the Bulldogs, who received a good test from a senior-heavy squad. Cashmere packed the meat of their schedule upfront and will face a few challenges over the next couple of weeks with non-conference games against Eastmont, Moses Lake, Ephrata, Wenatchee and La Salle.
With the WIAA moving soccer to an RPI system for playoff seeding, securing wins against quality opponents is paramount.
“I want (Montesano) to run the table and go to state with an (18-1) record because that just helps us,” Tronson said. “They are talking about strength of schedule, that’s why we’re playing Eastmont, Moses Lake, Ephrata, Wenatchee and La Salle.”
Cashmere has state aspirations this season so Tuesday’s matchup against Eastmont will be a good measuring stick. Kickoff at Eastmont Stadium is at 7 p.m.