Sports

Mission: Impossible

Morgan O’Friel gets physical in challenging for the ball. O’Friel was one of the game’s most physical players. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Morgan O’Friel gets physical in challenging for the ball. O’Friel was one of the game’s most physical players.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

BOTHELL — Central Kitsap’s Jordan King never thought she’d be in this position.

The freshman defender, called up from JV earlier in the season, found herself lining up with four of her teammates, awaiting a showdown that would determine whether or not the CK Cougars’ season would continue or end. King, the most inexperienced of CK’s No. 1 shootout squad, was nervous, yes. But more importantly, she was clutch.

King, the fourth shooter for CK in the final frame of play Tuesday night against Bothell, sank the winning shot off the hands of Bothell goalie Erin MacIsaac to give CK a 2-1 (3-1 shootout) victory in its first ever state playoff game Tuesday in Bothell.

For Bothell (15-1-2), it was the first loss of the season, and a costly one, sending them home. For CK (15-4-0), the win puts them into the eight-team quarterfinals against Stadium. That game happened last night at Silverdale Stadium. The results of that game were not available by press time.

CK coach Vicky Webb said the team had been practicing its shootout situations, anticipating they would need the extra work at some point in the playoffs.

“Jordan is a freshman,” Webb said. “We’ve been practicing our shootouts a lot toward the end of the season. We knew that would happen. She was nervous as could be.”

King, who was visibly nervous before the whistle, confirmed her pre-shot anxiety.

“Well, last night we had our shootout order and I saw I was on it,” King said. “I was brought up from JV, so I was nervous. I just tried to stay as calm as I can be so I could put it in.”

King may have won the tight match for CK, but the girls might not have had the chance if not for the stellar play of Narrows League co-MVP, Emily Zygmontowicz. CK’s All-League goalie stopped nearly everything that came her way, earning 13 saves in the contest, including a diving save to send Bothell defender Lindsey Conrad’s opening shot in the shoot-out wide left.

Bothell coach Alex Zahajko said his team simply couldn’t crack Zygmontowicz.

“(Zygmontowicz) had a great game,” Zahajko said. “She just didn’t give us any second chances. We couldn’t get anything.”

CK and Bothell played an extremely tight game. Bothell’s offense was able to get by CK’s defense, winning most loose balls and 50-50 challenges. But they couldn’t get by Zygmontowicz.

For CK, the offense had trouble creating consistent opportunities, but took advantage of what they could get. Despite their defensive lapses, CK won the physical game, sending Bothell players flying left and right. CK also won the mental battle, taking Bothell out of their game and forcing them into frustration.

The game started fast-paced, with Bothell taking an early 1-0 lead in the eighth minute.

Conrad came rushing down the field with only one defender to beat. With Kate Robinson back waiting, she anticipated Conrad’s every move, turning at the same time and forcing the ball out for a Bothell corner kick. Conrad, who kicked most of Bothell’s free- and cornerkicks, placed her kick beautifully. Sarah Hein found herself in the right place at the right time, and was able to get a nice header by Zygmontowicz into the right corner of the net.

It didn’t take long for CK to strike back. With Bothell applying heavy pressure on the CK defense, another nicely placed corner by Conrad was headed just wide right by Miranda Savory. That opened up a quick transition for CK, and after Bethany Daniel got a breakaway shot that bounced off the right crossbar back in the middle, Alissa Russell was waiting and punched it in.

The goal made it 1-1, a score that would hold through the rest of regulation and two overtime periods.

Throughout the match, Bothell looked as though they were thinking about the next round, rather than the match at hand. Zahajko said his team was ready to go, but laid off CK after their early goal.

“We came out firing and then kind of played back,” Zahajko said. “We gave them that goal and let them back into the game.”

Twice Bothell players came driving down with only Zygmontowicz to beat. But each time, Zygmontowicz charged like a linebacker, diving on the ball and sending Elysia Sarrett and Brittany Wick toppling over her.

CK’s Morgan O’Friel got in several physical match-ups. Nearly every Bothell player that tried to get by her found the turf at one time or another. Both yellow cards against Bothell were awarded out of frustration, as the home team couldn’t figure out how to match up with CK physically.

“I just try and take them out of their game,” O’Friel said. “Apparently, they got two yellow cards off of my play. We got them out of their psyche.”

Bothell’s best chance to take the lead came with nine minutes left in the first half. After Zygmontowicz stopped a shot by Savory, the rebound bounced out to Sarrett. She sent it back in with Zygmontowicz out of position, but it went just wide of the net.

Bothell kept the ball in CK territory, with Kalley Mahaffey, Lauren Northcutt and Sarrett using great contained passing to open a shot for Sarrett. Zygmontowicz dove in to stop it, but the ball popped loose. Zygmontowicz was able to dive back on it before Sarrett could get to it again.

Webb said it was that kind of intensity that allowed CK to win.

“We’re very proud of ourselves,” Webb said. “(Our girls) have a desire to be here. They’ve played with heart and intensity. We were determined not to look past them.”

Both five-minute overtime periods went by quickly. Neither team got great opportunities, but Bothell appeared to have the edge on offensive looks. But even with the better attack, CK’s defense did what it needed to, anchored all night by Zygmontowicz and Robinson. Hayley Bearbower and Chanel Williams also played strong defensively for CK.

But the game clearly came down to the battle between Zygmontowicz and MacIsaac, who was the KingCo 4A MVP.

“We have the most valuable keeper in the Narrows League,” Webb said. “They had the most valuable keeper in their league. It was a battle of goal-tenders, and I think ours won.”

The shootout began with Zygmontowicz’s save against Conrad. Brandi Hamre, who got a few good looks during the game, just edged her shot wide left for CK. Next up for Bothell was Mahaffey, who pushed her shot wide left as well.

That brought up Daniel for CK, who had been their most aggressive offensive player in the game. Daniel, after seeing the previous two shooters, adjusted perfectly to push it left enough to sneak by MacIsaac.

Sarrett answered for Bothell, placing the ball in almost exactly the same spot as Daniel to make it 1-1. Caitlin Verhofstad, who made the left side of Bothell’s defense look slow all night, got off a great chest-level shot that started toward the center but hooked left just beyond MacIsaac’s dive.

With a 2-1 lead and three players done, Bothell had to sink its next shot to stay in it. Amy Braden came up for Bothell, but shot high over the net. That brought up King. With King looking nervous but focused, she powered a shot that grazed MacIsaac’s hands and found the back of the net, giving CK a 3-1 shootout win.

“It’s pretty sweet,” Webb said. “For these guys, it’s everything. They believe in themselves. They’re upbeat and supportive of each other. That’s what you need to win.”

The girls swarmed together at midfield, some yelling and laughing, while others just looked in disbelief. O’Friel was somewhere in between.

“I’m feeling on top of the world,” O’Friel said. “We just killed a number one. I just can’t believe it. I’ve been dreaming about it for four years.”

Zahajko said he was disappointed his team lost after a perfect regular season.

“Once it gets to that point, it’s kind of a coin flip,” he said. “We were pretty confident. We just pushed it wide more than they did.”

O’Friel said they can’t make the same mistake Bothell may have made: They must focus on the opponent at hand.

“We’ve just got to keep playing our game,” O’Friel said. “We need to not get enveloped in the fact we just beat a No. 1.”

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