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"Going tough, kickers regroup"
"A little history lesson may provide some healthy perspective on the Bainbridge High School girls' soccer team's two losses to key Olympic League foes this week.Last year's Spartans stumbled off the blocks to a sluggish start, treading water at a less-than-break-even pace through the season's midpoint.After that, however, Bainbridge team members pulled themselves together in dramatic fashion, vanquishing two key 4A league rivals in the late going en route to an eventual berth in the state 3A Sweet Sixteen tournament.This year's start - a win and a tie, followed by tough Olympic League losses Tuesday and Thursday to 4A standard-bearers Port Angeles and Central Kitsap - suggests the Spartans may repeat last season's first-half storyline.This year's girls, however, believe that the second-half storyline will be relived, as well.We realized that we can play with the good teams like PA (and CK), and I think that will overall give us more confidence to take on those hard teams, said senior co-captain Alice Bischoff. I would have liked a win or even a tie but think we did the very best we could and I am proud of us.The play in both games bore out Bischoff's belief.Against the Roughriders Tuesday, Bainbridge kept the ball pinned on its offensive end for much of the first half, with several impressive runs at goal by Fab Rezayat and freshman Adriana Gonzales-Medina coming up just short.In the second half, however, Port Angeles made several offensive adjustments and attacked the Spartan goal with renewed ferocity. It took the last few minutes against a visibly worn-down Bainbridge squad, however, for PA's Lindsay Sather to break through with the game's first goal in the 73rd minute of play.The Roughriders' Mandy Wood sealed the deal moments later by drilling home a penalty kick past goalkeeper Lisa Earnest for the eventual 2-0 victory.I think that basically PA got lucky, Bischoff said. They were pretty desperate and took advantage of us getting tired near the end of the game.Against Central Kitsap, on the hard artifical-turf surface of Silverdale Stadium, Bainbridge again held its own in the early going. The Spartans countered an early penalty-kick goal by the Cougars' Keely Malhoit with an unassisted blast from senior Lauren Hume in the 23rd minute.CK counter-punched in the second half on a score from star forward Nicole Zygmontowicz - who transferred from last season's 2A state champion squad from Klahowya - but Bainbridge bounced right back on a Suzanne Replinger score.The Cougars, however, held firm on defense the rest of the way and won on Malhoit's second score in the 67th minute.Despite the losses, nobody from Bainbridge is hanging their heads.We expected these to be among our toughest games, because we hadn't played a tough team yet, Spartan coach Susan Fowler said. It was a good chance to see where our strengths and weaknesses were. We may need a little work on our conditioning, but I feel confident in what I've got.Rezayat, a junior who made the elite Olympic Development Program team this past summer, agreed.I don't know how long it will take us to find our groove together, but the sooner, the better, she said. This year's team is every bit, if not more, talented than last year's.Consider PA coach Kristin Roberts among the believers.This is the best team we've played in a good while, she said. These kinds of games are what we've come to expect from them. To us, they're no different than our toughest 4A opponents.Bainbridge next hosts 4A league rival Olympic Monday in a 6:45 p.m. contest. JV action begins at 5 p.m. The team also plays Tuesday at 2A challenger Port Townsend. "