'Tides don't turn, finish undefeated

On a muddy Woodward field, the Bainbridge Island Riptides polished off a sparkling undefeated season Saturday with a 2-1 victory over FC Kitsap White.

The Riptides clinched the District 4-7 Competitive (U-14) League Championship two weeks ago but needed to cool the red-hot Central Kitsap club, winners of six straight, to finish the season with a 12-0-2 mark, three full games ahead of seven teams representing Kitsap, Port Angeles, Olympia, Elma and North Mason.

“Going undefeated at these age levels just doesn’t happen all that often,” said Tides coach Paul McDonald, assisted in his second season with the Tides by Jon Jones.

Midfielder Julia Weese got the Tides final win rolling, taking forward Hannah Oshin’s drop pass 20 yards out to convert the tough leftside angle with a bending shot that hooked inside the far post.

Weese teamed up with Galen Douglas midway in the second period to break the 1-1 deadlock. Douglas controlled Weese’s long crossing shot from the right wing, then beat the goalie with a left-footed belt to the far post. Goalie Tory Harrison shut down FC Kitsap in the second half, registering eight saves in the evenly played match.

The Riptides’ dominance during the season – the team outscored opponents 32-5 in district play – far exceeded expectations shaped during a rugged preseason, when the Tides yielded 13 goals in two tournaments and another 15 at the LPTs in Pasco.

“Our biggest improvement was in passing the ball and maintaining possession,” said McDonald, who noted the team’s lack of long-ball booters or star-based attack.

Breaking down defenses with short, ball-controlled passes, the Tides offense produced 10 different goal-scorers, led by forwards Caitlyn Salo and Hannah Oshin with seven apiece. Jennifer Heinlein, Weese and Douglas also saw regular front line action.

“As a unit, they are about as team-oriented and cohesive as you can get. They work together well, encourage each other, and that support is infectious,“ said McDonald.

But defense keyed the Tides and throttled opponents all season long. Bainbridge registered 10 shutouts, yielded only five goals and allowed only three teams to score.

Sweeper Linnie White quarterbacked the stellar back line of Emily Peters, Molly Knell and Leslie Jones. The coordinated midfield play of Ryan McDonald, Kerry Hillier, Kristin Saksa, Callie McKenzie, Kelsey Middleton, Weese and Douglas completed the effort, along with goalies Salo, Harrison, Knell and Rani Holmes.

“This was a fantastic group of girls who loved what they were doing, kept going after practice and just never gave up. And they had fun,” McDonald said.

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