Offense has led the way for the Elma Eagles this season, but on Thursday night it was defense that propelled Elma past its biggest rival. Emmie Spencer’s blank sheet and three key saves in the second half held back the Montesano Bulldogs attack and a first half goal from Miley Seaberg proved to be enough to lift Elma past the Evergreen League champs.
”Going into districts, this is a big game for us,” said Elma Head Coach Evan Valentine. “It’s a great game for moral.”
Montesano’s defense was nearly as stout as the Eagles, but a first-half breakdown proved to be critical. In the 24th minute, Seaberg found a small opening from the top of the Montesano penalty box, and sent a slow roller toward the right corner of the net. Montesano keeper Riley Timmons was caught a step out of position and her dive for the ball was inches beyond her fingers, as the Eagles took a 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
In the second half, the Eagle defense made the goal stand up, although Montesano had multiple shots at an equalizer, including two free kicks from Bethanie Henderson. However, there would be no repeat of the senior’s Davis FIeld heroics as both shots sailed over the crossbar. However it was Spencer’s play in goal that secured the win in the last 15 minutes. Twice, Bulldog attackers were able to put a foot on the ball inside the Eagle penalty box, but both times, the Eagle keeper stood strong; once fighting through the feet of multiple attackers to cover up the ball and in the final five minutes, deflecting a one-on-one challenge wide of the net.
”I don’t know if there’s a better keeper in all of 1A soccer in this state,” said Valentine. “She’s the best.”
In spite of the loss, Montesano will take the top-seed into the upcoming district playoffs and conclude their regular season against Hoquiam. Elma can clinch a number two seed with a victory against Eatonville in their regular season finale.