PORT ORCHARD — Celina Madrid lined up a 30-yard free kick in the dying moments of Tuesday night’s match knowing it was now or never.
Down 1-0 to Emerald Ridge, the South Kitsap girls soccer team badly needed a point and a Rogers loss in order to stay alive in the playoff race. As she always does, Madrid set up the ball, aimed for the Nike symbol and let it fly. Nothing but net — and the game was tied.
“That’s definitely my shooting range,” Madrid said.
Madrid raced to the sidelines to embrace her coach, K-Lee Haynes, and she was soon joined by the rest of the team. At least for now, the Wolves were still in the hunt.
On a night South Kitsap (2-7-5) could easily have had five goals, the team settled for a 1-1 tie with the Jaguars. The team had several clean looks at the net and a couple of partial breakaways, but each time the Emerald Ridge keeper was able to get her hands around it.
“We hit it right at the goalkeeper,” Haynes said. “We couldn’t find the width and we made it easy for her.”
Emerald Ridge senior Britney Arneson scored in the 55th minute to break a scoreless tie. The Wolves nearly evened up the match a moment later when senior Ashley Cameron flipped a ball ahead for Madrid, who sent a hard shot to the far corner and nearly hit her intended target at the back post.
Unfortunately for the Wolves, Rogers clinched the sixth and final playoff spot about a half-hour later with a 3-1 victory over Graham-Kapowsin. That didn’t dampen the mood on Senior Night, however, as friends and family gathered around the seniors to celebrate the end of their high school careers at Ed Fisher Field.
The Wolves will bid farewell to several key seniors as they head to college next year — including Madrid — who plans to attend Edmonds Community College and is looking at continuing her soccer career there, as well. Also departing are Cameron (a Montana State University commit), Rachael Donalson, Makenna Wheeler, Abigail Rogers, Leah Hannan, Kyndal Thomas, Carmelita Whyte and Ambyr Halfhill.
The team started the year with 1-1 ties against Lakes and Klahowya, and also earned an early 1-1 tie against SPSL third-place team Curtis and wins over Emerald Ridge and Graham-Kapowsin. However, under the unusual SPSL regular season format, the first four matches of the SPSL schedule were classified as pre-season matches and didn’t count in the standings. Only the final eight matches on the schedule were used to determine playoff seedings.
South Kitsap can still send its seniors out on a winning note when they hit the road one last time for a Thursday match at Art Crate Stadium against Graham-Kapowsin. The Wolves can also still leap ahead of Emerald Ridge for seventh place in the SPSL.
“We’ve had a few ups and downs,” Madrid said. “We’ve had a lot of tough games, but we’ve always picked ourselves back up.”