Montesano soccer claims third place trophy

The Montesano soccer team may not have been playing in the game they wanted to on Saturday, but other than that, they ticked off all the boxes on their to-do list.  Score? Check.  Contain a potent offense? Check.  Revenge on a district rival? Check. But most importantly, win the last game of the year? Double-check.

Shaking off the disappointment of a semifinal loss on Friday, the Bulldogs scored twice in a four-minute span in the second half to blow open a close game, in route to a 3-1 win over La Center.  In addition to avenging a loss to the Wildcats in the District Four Championship two weeks ago, the win clinched the third-place trophy in the 1A State Tournament, the best finish in team history.

“It’s nice for the girls to finish the season with a win,” said head coach Fidel Sanchez.  “After last night’s heartbreak, I told the team that soccer is a cruel sport: it can give you heartbreak and celebration.  They wanted to celebrate today and that’s what we did.”

Coming off a 1-0 loss on Friday night to eventual state champion Seattle Academy, the Bulldogs showed no signs of letdown, trading possessions with the Wildcats through the first 28 minutes before striking for the first goal of the game.  Bulldog keeper Riley Timmons started the attack by clearing a slow roller from the top of the penalty box up to midfield.  The ball bounced over a Wildcat defender to forward Adda Potts, who collected the ball and pushed down the left side before crossing the ball across the goal to a trailing Jaelyn Butterfield.  The freshman one-timed her shot past keeper Sophia Johnson, giving Montesano a 1-0 lead and their first goal in the Final Four since the 2021 semifinals.

Neither team would score for the remainder of the first half, or the first ten minutes of the second half.  Then one of the Bulldogs’ newest stars blew the game open. In the 52nd minute, sophomore midfielder Alexa Stanfield fielded a cross from Sam Roundtree to the left of the Wildcat penalty box.  The all-league first teamer one timed the ball across the goal with her left foot, banking it off Johnson’s hands and into the net for a 2-0 Montesano lead.  Three minutes later, Stanfield would strike again, burying a shot from the top of the penalty box, pushing the lead to 3-0.

“She’s been stepping up in these types of games,” said Sanchez of Stanfield’s emergence as a scoring threat. “We knew we had a weapon developing there and today she showed what she can do.”

On any other day, Montesano’s offensive explosion would have been the story of the game, but it was the Bulldog defense that dominated the narrative.  Facing a Wildcat offense that had averaged four goals a game through the season, Montesano held La Center off the scoreboard for 73 minutes, thanks to superb play in goal from Riley Timmons and great one-on-one coverage from Potts on all-state midfielder Shaela Bradley.  Known for her speed and dribbling, Bradley was mostly limited to set piece shots that Timmons was able to handle.

“We were able to work together and communicate with each other to pass her (Bradley) off throughout the game,” said senior forward Mikayla Stanfield.

The Rutgers bound senior was able to beat the Dogs coverage in the 73rd minute, rifling a shot over a diving Timmons to end the shutout and trim the lead to 3-1.  Montesano was able to hold off the Cats the rest of the way, picking up their 15th win of the year, the first Final Four victory in school history, and the teams third straight state trophy.

“Continued success is what we preach,” said Sanchez.  “We’ve got a big class coming up.  We’ll start going again in June and see what we can do.”