Skyline blanks Issaquah for girls state soccer championship
November 20, 2012
By John Leggett
Sometimes, really good things come in small packages.
Such was the case on the turf of Puyallup High School’s Sparks Stadium, the evening of Nov. 17 when Issaquah and Skyline squared off for the 4A girls state soccer title.
When the dust cleared in the brutally physical throw down, the Skyline Spartans had blanked their KingCo 4A nemesis, 1-0, to claim the state crown for the fourth time in the past five years.
At the 15-minute mark of a hard-fought game that included a total of 20 fouls and four yellow cards, Skyline sophomore striker Isabella “Izzy” Marshall, easily the most demure girl on the pitch at 5 feet and 100 pounds dripping wet, registered the encounter’s solitary goal.
The diminutive firecracker took a picturesque assist from fellow sophomore forward Amanda Johnston and amid heavy traffic in front of Issaquah’s goal mouth pulled the trigger, legging in a left-footed rocket from about five yards out.
“I was just really happy for the seniors on this team, who have shown me that when you work hard, believe in yourselves and play confidently … you can achieve great things,” the impish Marshall said with an excited gasp in the electric atmosphere following Skyline’s clutch triumph.
As expected in the much-anticipated rivalry, neither team was going to be pushed around without getting in their licks, although both teams’ participants suffered their share of rug burns as players from both sides were constantly being nudged, jolted or flat out shoved from behind, in not so discreet a fashion, and flopping awkwardly down to the artificial surface became commonplace.
Despite both teams possessing a great deal of offensive firepower throughout the regular season and beyond, defense definitely ruled the day. It didn’t take long for the statisticians to tabulate the number of legitimate shots on goal, as there were five taken by each team, and the contest’s goal keepers, Emily Baril (Skyline) and Tara Fry (Issaquah) had a grand total of one official save between them. The midfielders and defenders were the stars that shined brightest on this night, as they were both able to keep the opponent at bay for the most part.
Basking in the afterglow of his Spartan club taking back-to-back state banners home in 2011 and 2012, Skyline’s head soccer coach, Don Braman lauded the youth soccer programs in Sammamish and Issaquah, saying that all of the great feeders were a substantial reason for the Spartans and the Eagles being the ones that fought it out for the state hardware when all was said and done.
“Speaking for myself, I feel rather spoiled,” Braman said with a smile. “Many of the girls on these two great teams are a by-product of having remarkably successful youth soccer leagues in our area. From the time they are old enough to walk, they are out there kicking the soccer ball around.
“What I was most pleased about from my girls in this victory was the fact that they never stopped believing in themselves and unselfishly played together as one cohesive unit, accomplishing a lot of the objectives that we worked so diligently on in practice every day. That cross kick to Izzy by Johnston that set the table for the game’s only score was textbook, Lianna Simms was an absolute rock on that defensive back line and Anna Deweirdt made sure that as much as possible we maintained possession of the ball. Every girl on this squad contributed to us taking home the gold and I was just so proud of all of them,” said Braman, whose squad wrapped up the trials and tribulations of the 2012 campaign with a 18-1-3 accounting overall.
One of the three ties on the season suffered by Skyline came at the hands of none other than Issaquah, a team that certainly earned the right to lock horns with the Spartans in the final confrontation.
Nobody can take anything away from an Issaquah contingent that finished the season at 19-4-1, enduring its only tie of the season to Skyline in a foreshadowing of things to come. Issaquah hosted Skyline during their only meeting of the regular season at the Eagles Nest on Oct. 23, and the two adversaries scratched and clawed their way to a scoreless 0-0 deadlock.
Coming into the state championship game with Skyline, Issaquah experienced what may well have been its finest hour in the semifinals Nov. 16 against the Camas Papermakers, when it rallied back from a 1-0 halftime deficit to knot the score at one apiece. Lauren Thomas managed a goal in the game’s 57th minute to send the game into overtime.
Five minutes into the sudden death O.T., Issaquah’s Annie Hoffman plunged a dagger into the Papermakers’ heart as she sizzled a kick into the Camas webbing for the winning goal, and it was on to the championship game against its Crown Division arch-rival on Nov. 17.