BREMERTON – Down a goal, their season on the line, the Trojans launched an all-out offensive attack.
Olympic scrambled frantically, searching for an equalizer right to the final whistle. But with a trip to Columbia River and the quarterfinal round of the state tournament on the line, a 52nd minute goal by the Red Raiders would ultimately sink the Trojans’ chances, falling 1-0 at home on Nov. 8.
Bellingham scored off of a long throw-in about 25 yards upfield from the Olympic goal. The ball bounced past a couple of players jockeying for position to the back side of the defense where sophomore defender Elizabeth Lewis-Clarke had arrived just in time to fire the ball into the net.
“We battled hard, I’m proud of the kids,” said Olympic head coach Steve Haggerty. “We just let that one girl get loose on the long throw in and she got it at the back post.”
Olympic created some chances, especially in the first half as they dominated possession for the first 15 minutes of the game. The Trojans also earned two free kicks in the first half with a chance to send the ball on goal, but Bellingham keeper Britney Butcher came up with the save each time.
The closest call for the Trojans was a chance generated by a great run down the right sideline by midfielder Saoirse Brown. As she neared the end line, Brown crossed the ball towards the box into the chest of Kiarra Richards, who was unable to direct it on goal.
But as the game wore on, the Red Raiders would take control of the game. After picking up the go-ahead goal, Bellingham was able to successfully close down space in the middle of the field to deny Olympic the ability to generate meaningful offensive chances. Slick field conditions and a steady, light rain that picked up in the second half meant linking up for combination plays would be more difficult.
Bellingham nearly iced the game on a clever shot by Eden Fawcett that almost caught keeper Karli Taylor too far off her line, but Taylor recovered in time to make the save and keep her team alive.
From there, Olympic continued to push the pace of the match, pressing players forward, but the game-tying goal never came.
“I went for broke and pulled a defender into the attack,” said Haggerty. “We were creating havoc, but not enough to get one in the back of the net.”
The loss means saying goodbye to senior captains Brooklyn Haro, Sydney Zeitler and Tishara Day – as well as midfielder JazzMyn Williams – who Haggerty called the backbone of his team and the defense. He praised their efforts in leading the team after the loss of top scorer Hanna Troy early in the season.
“Our kids stepped up and played well. I’m proud of them,” said Haggerty. “All I asked them to do before the game in the locker room was to go out and battle and they did.”
Mark Krulish is a reporter at Kitsap News Group. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.