Aleisha Gable leads Skyline attack to beat back Bothell

October 15, 2013

By Neil Pierson

It’s unusual for the Skyline Spartans girls soccer team to be held without a goal in any game, and when it happens twice in a four-match span, it’s definitely a cause for concern.

Skyline lost 1-0 at Woodinville on Sept. 24 and managed a scoreless draw at Inglemoor on Oct. 3. When the team returned to Spartan Stadium to play the Bothell Cougars on Oct. 8, they were hungry to light up the scoreboard.

Thanks to a pair of goals from senior Aleisha Gable, and two assists from senior Jordan Branch, the Spartans did exactly that in thrashing Bothell, 5-0, in Class 4A KingCo Conference action.

“We have two hard games next week,” said Gable, referring to Garfield and Eastlake. “We needed this comeback and to get our energy back up.”

The Spartans put the pedal to the metal from the opening whistle, and the final statistics backed up their take-no-prisoners attitude. Skyline took 21 shots to Bothell’s one, had an 11-0 edge in shots on goal, and won the vast majority of loose-ball duels.

“It was really the first five minutes — focusing from the work we did in warmups and transferring it over into the game, and just winning every ball,” Branch said.

Skyline’s first scoring chance came in the seventh minute. On a corner kick, Abbie Litka sent a short pass to Brooke Holland, who was free to drive the ball toward the goal. Gable was in perfect position to head the ball past Cougars goalkeeper Sara Christensen.

“It was actually funny,” Gable explained. “I wear a headband, and I went over and grabbed it from my coach, and he told me to go score a header goal. And not two minutes later, I did.”

The Spartans threatened to double their lead over the next 20 minutes, with Lindsey Fujiwara hitting the post on one occasion, and the Cougars clearing a Branch shot off the goal line.

The second goal came in the 27th minute as Branch collected the ball in the middle of the field and fed Fujiwara, who shook free from a defender and blasted a right-footed shot past Christensen from 18 yards.

Three minutes later, the lead grew to 3-0. Christensen stopped Holland’s long-range shot, but the rebound fell right to Gable, who chested the ball into the net.

“Right place, right time,” Gable said of the goal. “Skyline always crashes the box. That’s what we’re taught to do, that’s what coach tells us to do and we get goals off it.”

Skyline’s starting defensive trio of Litka, Abbey Porter and Gaby Adamson kept Bothell from establishing any offensive rhythm. The Spartans were able to intercept many passes and create immediate counterattacking chances.

That led to Skyline’s fourth goal in the 49th minute. Branch sprinted past a defender down the left sideline and made a pinpoint cross to Kourtney Kirton, who had an open one-timer from 10 yards.

Skyline finished the scoring in the 72nd minute off a similar combination play. Izzy Marshall hit Lauren Carson, who beat Christensen to the far post.

Skyline (8-1-1 overall, 4-1-1 conference) has 13 points in KingCo Crest Division play and trails first-place Issaquah by two points. Issaquah and Skyline were the top two teams, respectively, in The Seattle Times’ 4A state rankings last week, and last season’s state finalists will clash again Oct. 24 at Skyline.

Gable said the Spartans have had to adjust after losing midfielder Brooke Bofto early in the season to a leg injury.

Branch said fitness drills have been a big part of the team’s practice sessions, and head coach Don Braman has a liberal substitution pattern in most games to keep the players fresh.

“We’re working on a lot of combinations and working together so we don’t have to work as hard individually,” Branch said.

Branch is one of five Skyline players who’ve given oral commitments to play collegiate soccer. She and Porter are planning to play at Washington State, and Branch is looking to study for a career in veterinary medicine.


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