When it rains, it pours: Rivals girls soccer team eliminated from Nisqually League playoffs

Posted 11/15/21

The Rivals girls soccer team’s playoff run has come to a close after two consecutive losses last week.

East Jefferson faced the Klahowya Eagles Nov. 2, losing 8-0 to the top contender in the …

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When it rains, it pours: Rivals girls soccer team eliminated from Nisqually League playoffs

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The Rivals girls soccer team’s playoff run has come to a close after two consecutive losses last week.

East Jefferson faced the Klahowya Eagles Nov. 2, losing 8-0 to the top contender in the division.

To save their season and remain in the playoffs, EJ squared off against the Vashon Island Pirates Nov. 4, but lost 2-1.

On a blustery and rainy Tuesday night, the Rivals took the field versus Klahowya for their second match of the playoffs, having previously defeated Annie Wright School 5-1 on Oct. 29. Looking to dethrone a powerful and undefeated Klahowya squad, the girls geared up for the kickoff on a chilly night in Silverdale.

In the first five minutes, the Rivals found limited success moving the Eagles back and passing through the outside lanes. But the David-and-Goliath tale would not ring true for the Rivals.

Klahowya opened the scoring on the night with a powerful strike into the net to go up 1-0. Although EJ’s defense held steady for 10 minutes, they conceded again as Klahowya went up 2-0 after their shot pinged off the crossbar, but was slotted into the net on the rebound shot.

The Eagles soared to 3-0 midway through the first half after a wicked strike from outside the goalie box that slid into the top right corner of the goal.

EJ kept pushing though, however, as senior captain Savanna Hoffman moved the ball upfield with sophomore Ava Shiflett juking through opposing midfielders. On defense, senior Aurin Asbell and Isabel McCracken kept Klahowya at bay, while sophomore Mi Amada Lanphear-Ramirez broke up any passes through the Rivals’ end of the field.

Right before the end of the first half, the Eagles scored again with a header into the net build on a 4-0 advantage.

The second half was more of the same, as the Eagles put another four goals through to finish at 8-0.

“It’s always hard to come here and play against them and stay in the game. I feel like the first half was a lot better, we just kind of lost our momentum in the second half,” Rivals Head Coach Robert Cantley said of the match.

“They’re all freezing cold and soaking wet, but it’s alright,” he said. “I gave a chance for some of the girls who don’t get to play that much to get some more minutes. We’re looking forward to Thursday; it’ll be a make or break game.”

Looking for redemption, the Rivals faced Vashon Island at  Mount Tahoma stadium on Nov. 4 as more rain and heavy winds encompassed the stadium.

Missing three of their starters, the Rivals were prepared to give their all, regardless of the setbacks.

The first half was a battle of the midfielders, as both teams probed toward the goal without converting. That is, until sophomore Audrey Matthes slipped a ball between two defenders, releasing junior Kaylen Pray down the right side to beat the keeper with a low shot to the left corner before the end of the first half.

In the second half, Vashon geared up to equalize with the wind at their backs. The Rivals kept the Pirates at bay until Vashon converted a 50-yard free kick carried by the wind, the ball sneaking past senior keeper Savanna Hoffman’s outstretched hands.

Both teams fought for the go-ahead goal until Vashon was awarded a corner kick with 10 minutes remaining in the game.

A Vashon player booted the ball through to the center, and the Pirates scored after finding a loose ball in the penalty box.

With Vashon in front 2-1 and desperate to tie the game, the Rivals pushed forward as far as possible, but to no avail. With their fates sealed after another rainy loss, the Rivals were eliminated from the Nisqually League playoffs.

Although the season came to a sadly soggy end, Cantley praised his team for their no-quit attitude and determination.

Junior Shelby Thibeault put in an excellent performance at right back, Cantley said, and kept Vashon’s best player away from the net.

Lanphear-Ramirez was credited for breaking up midfield attacks, and sophomore Iris Mattern for covering a lot of ground and initiating many of EJ’s attacks on net.

McCracken and Asbell were also praised by the coach for providing the team’s defensive foundation on the night.

“We have plenty of reasons to be proud of our performance, of the season as a whole, as this represents a profoundly successful season for the girls’ program which has languished for years in underachievement,” Cantley said.

“No girls team in my memory has gone this far in the postseason and I could not be more proud of this team for their fighting spirit on the field and their camaraderie off of it,” he said. “We are already looking forward to next season.”

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