Shoreline — The Cascade Kodiak girls’ soccer team battled the highly touted Seattle Academy Cardinals team for 80 minutes to a scoreless tie in the WIAA 1A Championship game on Saturday at the Shoreline Stadium.
Time and again during the game, the Kodiak defense thwarted the Cardinal attack, but in the early minutes of overtime, Seattle Academy slipped behind the defense, hit the perfect cross, which found the foot of an oncoming Cardinal and into the net.
Just like that, the game and season are over for the Kodiaks. Seattle Academy wins its 16th 1A Championship 1-0. For Cascade, it was their third loss in the finals. Cascade Head Coach Glen Stefanko said he could not be more proud of the girls.
“There is nothing in my mind that I would have asked more of them. They played hard. They played their hearts out. At the end of the day, it is a game. They are true champions. There is no doubt about it,” Stefanko said. “They’ve shown they have the heart to be a champion. They’ve shown what a champion looks like. They were far more sportsmen than our opponents were today.”
In the first half, the Cardinals were passing crisply and were able to build the attack, while the Kodiaks were having trouble doing the same against their talented back line and keeper.
The Cardinals showed off their talent with a couple of free-kicks from 30 and 40 yards, hitting a rope right to the goal. Luckily Cascade keeper Devan Archer was right there.
Stefanko used his defensive stopper junior Stella Johnson on junior midfielder Annika Daniel of the Cardinals. Johnson was able to all but neutralize the talented Daniel.
The game was tied 0-0 at the half. The Cardinal had outshot Cascade 5-2. It was a physical game as there were four fouls on both sides.
Cascade picked up the tempo in the second half finding more chances. They had a free-kick from 34 yards and a corner kick, but could not find the net. The Kodiaks’ fine junior midfielder Molly Wiser did not start the second half but came in later at a forward spot.
Cascade coaches were complaining about the physical play. Finally, Daniel was hit with a yellow card at 64 minutes. The Kodiaks had a great chance with a free-kick from 35 yards. Senior Savana Stefanko hit a nice shot toward the goal that senior striker Tori Driscoll nearly deflected into the goal.
The game ended tied 0-0 at the end of regulation. The way the two teams were playing, it seemed like two five minute overtime periods would come and go and there would be a shootout.
However, in the game of soccer, all it takes is one defensive lapse. The Cardinal’s Lucy Van Newkirk was able to slip by the Kodiak defense to the end line. She lifted a perfect cross, which found Daniel on the far side for the game-winning score.
Just like that. It was over.
“The defense did what they were supposed to do. They are good teams and good players. They are going to get crosses off now and again. If nothing else, it’s just a reminder. It’s not over until the whistle blows. You just have to keep playing your game, playing hard,” Stefanko said. “People get through and there is not much you can do about it at times. A good goal is a good goal.”
Cascade outshot Seattle Academy in the second half, 5-1. The Cardinals picked up five more fouls. The Kodiaks had their chances to score in the second half, but could not. Stefanko said they were a little panicky.
“We were hitting some balls we didn’t need to hit, a little early, little soft, mishitting. That’s a focus thing. It’s tough to focus in these big games. These teams have been here a lot. They are used to being in these moments and we’re not as much,” he said. “As a whole, the more you are here, the more comfortable you get. The further you get down the road, the more of these obstacles you start to overcome.”
Cascade finished the season 14-7. The Cardinals were 13-3-1. The Kodiaks say goodbye to a group of seniors who have been to three finals fours, Devan Archer, Truh Merriman, Alexa Rodgers, Kascia Muscutt, Kolby Hunt, Savana Stefanko and Tori Driscoll.
“The heart of these ladies is phenomenal. They are paving a road for the ladies coming up. You can’t get your head down and never say die. Good things are going to happen when you work like that,” Stefanko said.
Certainly, the 1A champions are unfairly lopsided with private schools. Suffice to say, the Cardinals have won 16. Seattle Academy is loaded with Divison I and II style players. It makes it tough for the public school like Cascade.
The last public school champ was Klahowya in 2014. Stefanko said a public school will break through again.
“It will happen. We’re tapping on the door. If nothing else, we’re paving a way for the ladies to come up and go. What you don’t want is a one and done and never see it again. You want to go hard and be a regular,” he said. “You want to see the public program be able to compete. If nothing else, we’re paving a road.”