EAST BREMERTON — Silverdale Stadium was a veritable wind tunnel on Thursday night, with 10 mph sustained winds holding steady throughout the game with the occassional gust of 25 mph or more.
And the wind was blowing south to north, meaning one team was heading directly into it as they attempted to move upfield. In the first half, that team was Klahowya.
“Absolutely terrible in the first half,” senior midfielder Rylee Radford said, describing the playing conditions. “It was like playing Cascade and the wind.”
Fortunately, the Eagles were able to beat both. They exploded for five goals in the second half against an undermanned Cascade Christian squad to capture their second consecutive district championship.
Radford scored twice, and Kayden Eckley, Hope Martin and Alyssa Peters tallied as well — all in the span of about 21 minutes.
“It changes both teams’ games,” head coach Troy Oelschlager said. “Weather is a great equalizer. It doesn’t matter what the difference is in the talent between the two teams. You throw severe weather at them, and it evens the playing field.”
Cascade Christian opened the scoring with a goal in the 14th minute when a pass across the field by the Klahowya defense got caught up in the wind. Hannah Beardemphl flagged it down and scored to put her team ahead.
“It got hung up, and we didn’t deal with it,” Oelschlager said.
But the elements were in the Eagles’ favor in the second half. The wind was at their backs and Cascade Christian was playing with only 10 players, as it had throughout the district tournament, and they took full advantage.
Eckley scored the breakthrough goal in the 57th minute, as she was able to direct a Radford cross into the net with her body. Six minutes later, Peters hit the crossbar with a shot and Martin collected the rebound. She had to finesse the ball over the keeper and it dribbled into the net to give Klahowya the lead.
Radford then scored twice in three minutes, including one on a left-footed shot from a good distance that floated over the Cascade Christian keeper. Peters closed the scoring on a corner kick in the 78th minute.
“We’re happy to be back,” Oelschlager said. “Hopefully we’ll get a little deeper in the state tournament this year.”
Klahowya will host a first round state tournament game on Tuesday, Nov. 6 at Silverdale Stadium against the No. 3 seed from District 4. If Olympic wins its final district game Saturday, the two teams will play a double-header at 5 and 7 p.m.