Kickers out-muscle Eastside Catholic

Taryn Christoffersen turned on the scoring spigot and Allie Picha opened the floodgates against visiting Eastside Catholic Thursday night.

Both teams played a furious run-and-shoot game at windy Memorial Stadium, but Picha’s three goals and the Bainbridge backline of Kylie Izzi and Kyle McFarlane made the difference in the 4-3 Spartan win.

Picha got her first chance of the night on a throw-in, and after a scrap in front of the goal, Eastside kicked the ball out of bounds to relieve the pressure.

It took less than a minute for the Spartans to march downfield and repeat the play, and the ensuing Bainbridge corner kick found Christoffersen’s head, which found the back of the net at 31:23 for the first Spartan goal.

High winds made for interesting passes and long shots, but the Spartans countered by putting the ball on net every chance they got.

Christoffersen punted a high pass to Picha in front of Crusader keeper Veronica Cerda, but the lofty cross hung a bit longer than Picha might have expected, and her header went over the crossbar.

Eastside pushed forward with a speedy, scrappy offense, but the Spartan defensive tandem of Izzi and McFarlane held fast and pushed back, setting up plays downfield for the always-running Bainbridge forwards.

At 26:55, Lindsay Lund beat Eastside captain Jilyne McDonald and popped a shot at Cerda, which she bobbled but ultimately hung on to. The Crusader offense got no further than midfield before Izzi forced a turnover and sent them backpedaling

Pressure by Courtney Bell put the ball to a full-speed Picha, but her advance was whistled just off-side as she shot on goal.

Undaunted on the next play, Bell beat her defender with a quick spin-around and shot a crossing pass across the goal mouth and out of bounds, but no one was there as Picha had tangled with Stephanie Gai.

Another shot by Christoffersen bounced over the goal after a pile-up in front of the net, but at 13:35, Picha bumped off her defender with a move reminiscent of a hip-check in ice hockey, and plunked a short kick into the lower right corner of the net for her first of the night.

The Crusaders rushed back downfield, and Alexia Iani’s crossing pass deep in Spartan territory ended up catching goalie Callie Tift moving from left to right, while the ball rocketed from right to left, parallel to the the goal line and only six inches away from being kicked in. What could have been Eastside’s first tally of the game was negated by Izzi, who scrambled and shot the ball out of the Spartan defensive zone.

The wind picked up and played havoc with both team’s shots -- Lund put one wide left of the goal on a corner kick, Picha bounced off the Eastside goalie and popped one wide left, and Bell found the exact same spot at 2:30.

Picha shot wide right on a low pass from Christoffersen, barely missing the top corner of the net. On the subsequent play, Picha flew in again, only to find Eastside’s Iani in her path. The pair collided, with Picha steamrolling on in her usual fashion -- while a dazed Iani spent 30 seconds flat on her back in the wet grass.

Under the two minute mark, Bell found Callan Cobb, but Cobb’s blast went over the net and through the football goalposts.

The Crusaders regrouped at the half, and after five minutes of back-and-forth play, Kelli Burgess found a rebound from new Spartan goalkeeper Catherine Powers at her feet, and put the Crusaders on the scoreboard with a chip-in shot just under the 35-minute mark.

Jenine Adam made a solo trip downfield and blasted a long, arcing shot high over the net, but her next possession in the EC defensive zone found Picha waiting in front of the goal. Adam sent a pass from the right side that led to a beautiful Picha header, and her second score of the game.

Crusader players were beginning to understand the tenacity and physical presence of Picha in the middle, but could do little to stop her.

Just shy of the 30-minute mark, a long Eastside shot caught a gust of wind and floated over a leaping Powers into the top right corner of the net.

But Picha wasn’t done, and less than a minute later completed her hat trick on a corner kick that found her, not surprisingly, right in front of the net. With the Spartans up 4-2, Eastside pushed on, and a McDonald header on a pass from Kelli Waiss beat Powers in the net.

The goal energized the Crusaders, and again, both Izzi and McFarlane stepped up to counter the attack.

Picha outran Gai, but her high shot caromed off the crossbar and out of bounds. Ten seconds later, Bell blasted an attempt that found the right post.

With less than five minutes to play, Picha set up in front of goalkeeper Cerda again, but Adam’s cross was too lofty.

Lindsay Lund took the ball at 3:30 and tested Cerda, who got a glove on the ball and dropped to cover it. Lund took the next possession in from midfield, braking only to launch a rocket over the net.

The Crusaders, with two minutes left to play and down by a single goal, mounted an all-out attack. But the Spart defense held, and Powers had to stop only a single shot on goal before the clock wound down, preserving the 4-3 lead for Bainbridge.

Head coach Mark Grindrod was pleased with his entire team’s effort, and happy that Picha’s shots found their mark.

“She’s got her confidence back,” Grindrod said of the three-goal effort.

“And Jenine was outstanding in the middle.” Grindrod added. “Courtney Bell was doing a nice job up front, really making the other team work. I was really proud of the girls.”

The Spartans are 7-4 in league play going into Tuesday’s away game against Seattle Prep.

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