PUYALLUP — Senior captain Marielle Arnold predicted her team would be ready to play Saturday morning as they took on Lakeside of Seattle in the third place match of the Class 3A state tournament.
A consolation match at 10 a.m. can be a difficult proposition for a team that was beaten in the semifinals the day before, but the Cougars, having gone farther than any team in program history, were determined to see their season end on a positive note.
Central Kitsap did just that — Arnold scored a goal in the 23rd minute and keeper Kiley Hall and her backline kept the Lions off the scoreboard in a 1-0 victory that brought home a third place trophy.
“I’ve seen teams crumble and I’ve seen teams step into that role really well and they did,” said Central Kitsap head coach Keith Sargent. “They stepped into that role.”
The Cougars were clearly the better team in the first half, playing with an energy and vigor that contrasted with a flat Lakeside squad. From the opening kickoff, it seemed to be a matter of time before they would take the lead.
The big goal came in the 23rd minute. Madisyn Diabo took a free kick from about 45 yards out and the ball took a deflection and bounced on its way into the box. The Lakeside keeper mishandled it as she dove to her left and Arnold was in the right place at the right time to bury the shot.
“It shows that it’s always good to follow,” Arnold said.
Ella Smith nearly added an insurance marker in the 54th minute on a free kick from just outside the penalty area, but the Lakeside keeper dove to her left and was able to get her hands on it. Paris Agana nearly had a goal as well, taking a great feed from Delaney Homewood and getting a foot on it as the keeper charged out of the net. The ball bounced up and hit the keeper in the face before rolling away towards the sideline.
After that, the Lions began to pick up the intensity and pushed forward for the equalizer. They were able to earn themselves a few set pieces but weren’t able to come up with anything dangerous.
“They did really well with finding the throughs and having their forwards run into the ball,” Diabo said. “So we had to make sure the backline stayed tight and not have any gaps.”
Lakeside’s best chance came on a 79th minute corner. The ball was launched in and took several pinball bounces between feet right in front of the Central Kitsap net. Hall was able to reach out to her right and pull it off the line to keep the Lions off the board.
“I can’t even described what happened,” Hall said. “Sometimes it gets really chaotic and you have to trust that your team will kick it out and always be watching the ball.”
The referee added on two minutes, but they were of little use — at least to the opposition. Central Kitsap kept defending until the third place trophy was theirs. Any disappointment still lingering from Friday’s loss to Lake Washington was long gone. They had made school history, and with all but three players returning next year, they’re not done yet.
“It would have been great to win first or second, but we just won third place,” Hall said. “It’s something the school has never done before.”
Central Kitsap 1, Lakeside (Seattle) 0
CK 1 0 — 1
LK 0 0 — 0
First half — CK, Marielle Arnold (Madisyn Diabo), 23rd.
Second half — no scoring.
— Mark Krulish is a reporter for Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @MKrulishKDN.