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Trojans slap Stadium in opener
"When the Olympic High School girls soccer team played Roosevelt last night, they were somewhere they never dreamed of being.No, not Seattle's Memorial Stadium - the actual location of the game wasn't the issue.The Trojans were surprised, they said, to have advanced to the state Class 4A championship quarterfinals.We didn't expect it - we never thought we'd get there, midfielder Erin Laird said of the Final Eight. We lost 10 seniors from last year, and we're such a young team.Laird, a senior, scored one goal and assisted on sophomore Emily Tracy's game-winner in the second half as the Trojans - so they say - surprised themselves with a 2-1 victory over Stadium in a first-round state playoff game. They won by the same score over Jefferson in a West Central District qualifier last weekend, and beat Central Kitsap in another one-goal decision, 3-2, to more or less clinch the Olympic League championship at the end of October.For such a young team, there seems to be a lot of clutch winnin' going on.We came in here all injured, starting four freshmen, so we really didn't know what to expect, said Olympic coach Steve Haggerty, whose teams are nearly annual qualifiers for the postseason, but have only two state tournament victories (last night and in 1997) to show for it.Now, though, I don't think we're happy just to be here, Haggerty said of the Final Eight. I think we want to go farther.The Trojans got their chance in last night's quarterfinals against Roosevelt, a 2-0 winner over Kentlake in the first round. The winner advances to the Final Four Nov. 17-18 at Federal Way Stadium.Tracy broke a 1-1 tie with 18 minutes left to play when she ran onto Laird's near-post cross on the left side of the penalty box and smoked a 12-yard shot past goalkeeper Bry Woll.I saw Erin come through, so just ran (to the) near post and she fed it perfectly, Tracy said.From there, Haggerty said of the winning shot, Emily is lethal.Earlier, Tracy had set up Laird, beating two defenders and hitting a cross that Laird ran onto in the right corner of the box and slammed a shot through Woll's hands and inside the far post.I had to catch up with it, Laird said of Tracy's cross through the box. (The shot) wasn't the best form or anything, but it went in.Laird was a freshman the last time the Trojans played in the state quarterfinals, where they lost 5-1 to Snohomish after a first-round tiebreaker victory over Kent-Meridian. Tracy was a freshman last year when Oly lost a district qualifying match 2-1 to K-M and fell short of the state bracket.Both came up big in Tuesday's victory, serving each other for Troy's two goals. But they weren't alone. All 12 of the players Haggerty used against the Tigers contributed something to the victory.None came up bigger, though - figuratively or literally - than goalkeeper Tiffany Jess. The 6-foot-1 junior made eight saves, stopping several shots that looked like they were destined for the netting.We've got a lot of confidence in Tiffany, said Tracy.Four freshmen - defender Ashley Cook, midfielders Lindsay Neste and Cassie Pugh and forward Lauren Haas - all played beyond their tender years, and veterans Natalie Carlson and Sydney Elliott, both juniors, shored up a bend-but-don't-break defense that allowed only one goal, Celeste Brayton's unassisted tally 10 minutes into the second half.And senior Chantal Ricard was simply wherever the Trojans needed her to be throughout.The last 20 minutes or so, she started holding back on her own, knowing we needed her at the back, Haggerty said of the senior midfielder. She sacrificed her offensive runs to help us out back there, and she did a nice job.The defense also got some help from a Trojan attack that managed to be dangerous almost every time it touched the ball. Oly nearly scored several first-half goals in addition to Laird's rocket, from Pugh's marvelous crossover dribble and shot (saved by Woll) to Neste's shot over the bar (set up by Haas' header in the middle).Oly had trouble ever winning complete control of the midfield, though, thanks to the work of Brayton and Michelle Everson. Somehow, though, the host team managed to build a number of convincing attacks.We have awesome forwards, Laird grinned. "