WENATCHEE — The Kodiaks are back in the quarterfinals, following a one-year absence, after they pulled out a 3-2 OT win over the Wahluke Warriors Tuesday night at the Apple Bowl.
But Cascade had to work harder than originally anticipated after blowing a two-goal lead in a span of five minutes.
The Kodiaks completely dominated the game overall; they out-shot the Warriors 30-4, held possession for the majority of the match and built a two-goal lead in the first half off a pair of goals from Kolby Hunt. But all of that was nearly squandered in the opening five minutes of the second half as Cascade committed two penalties in the box, leading to two PK goals for Wahluke, which leveled the game at 2-2.
“That was representative of the miscommunication we had sporadically throughout the first half,” Cascade head coach Glen Stefanko said after the win. “The first half was not the way our girls could play; we can control the pace of the game and control the way the ball moves on the field but we were having a breakdown every fifth or sixth pass. And that represents the first five minutes of the second half where we had breakdown-after-breakdown-after-breakdown.”
The score remained 2-2 for the rest of regulation, but fortunately for Cascade, Alexa Rodgers bailed out her teammates three minutes into extra-time, burying the game-winner from just inside the box.
“It was a rough game but the girls fought and I’m excited for them to put the ball in the net and make sure we don’t have to relive those first five minutes of the second half,” Stefanko said. “Sometimes things don’t go to plan and you have to figure a way to put the ball in, and they did. We’ll have a better showing next time no doubt, but glad they were able to pull it out.”
Despite how the second half started, Stefanko was pleased with how his girls responded over the final 35 minutes of regulation. Cascade didn’t allow a shot on target and peppered the Wahluke keeper with an array of shots from around the box.
“They had me breathing down their neck, which is never easy,” Stefanko said. “But sometimes you do that to see if they can manage under pressure. We had the game under control, we just needed to finish and I think once they settled down we started to play our game and (generate) more opportunities on net.”
The Kodiaks will get a few days to rest and prepare for either La Salle or Freeman, who they will face on the road on Saturday.
“That game is going to be tough no matter who wins,” Stefanko said. “But we just have to take things play-by-play and game-by-game. If you’re not expecting a battle then you’re not in the right mindset for a postseason game.”
Time of kickoff and where will be determined Thursday. If Cascade wins, it will be the Kodiaks’ second trip to the Final Four in three years — in 2017 the Kodiaks fell one PK short of a State Championship.