Spartans make a statement

Promising two games for the ages, the Spartans and their guests obliged.

The Bainbridge girls soccer team this week hosted two of the best teams from their Mountain Division of the Metro Conference – perhaps two of the best in the state.

The Spartans broke through for their first win over the 2003 champion Lions, 2-1 Tuesday, then came from behind Thursday to tie the Panthers, 1-1.

“We implemented tight marking on their key players and it worked,” coach Mark Grindrod said. “Credit goes out to all of the players. They played aggressively, and they played smart.”

Jenine Adam, who scored both goals in the victory over Lakeside, put it this way:

“We played as a team. It was awesome. It was so much fun. I think we were really prepared going in. We were pumped up and we knew what we had to do. We got it done on the field, and that was exciting.”

Seattle Prep handed the Spartans their only defeat of the season on Sept. 14, a 2-0 loss. Lakeside came in undefeated, with only 4A soccer power Bellarmine Prep scoring against them this year, and having never lost to Bainbridge.

Against all that, the hometown girls girded themselves for one battle at a time. Among their Metro meetings, Lakeside twice had come on late to crush valiant Bainbridge efforts in the past: 2-1 in 2002, and a 4-3 barnburner last year.

With tight marking evident on both sides Tuesday, senior midfielder and co-captain Jenine Adam took a Molly Oshin pass with her first goal in the 15th minute, slotting the ball low to her left.

Lakeside knotted the score in the second half, but Adam countered Lion Lauren Whatley’s conversion in the 59th minute by scorching a 35-yard drive that dipped over netminder Abby Wager for the winner in the 61st.

Team defense and great goalkeeping by junior Jackie Danzig closed down Lakeside.

Tough Prep

Having prevailed on Tuesday, could the Sparts regroup for another pitched contest with Prep on Thursday?

“Hopefully we’ll play with the same intensity,” Adam said after the Lakeside contest. “If we play well we can beat anyone, so that’s the plan.”

The Spartans brought their team chemistry on Thursday sharing the load defensively and offensively. Bainbridge entered the contest with 33 goals among 11 players, allowing seven.

Bainbridge started strong, claiming early momentum. But the next 25 minutes belonged to Prep. Panther midfielder Jackie Miller arched a free kick in from the right. Freshman phenom Pfeiffer Bloecker slammed home the header at the far post in the 15th minute putting Bainbridge down 1-0 into the second half.

The Bainbridge defense stiffened in front of aggressive and decisive play from junior goalkeeper Callie Tift, strong all game.

In the second half, coach Grindrod assigned junior Lizzie Seligmann with the daunting task of slowing down the fleet-footed Bloecker, which she did to great effect.

Prep’s field general Ashley Greene had little to no room to maneuver, and Spartan midfielders Adam and Lindsay Lund looked to break through.

The co-captains drove the middle, slashing toward the goal, then knifing passes to forwards Tucker Huget and Allie Picha.

The Prep goal was tough to breach, as sophomore goalkeeper Megan Ralph worked toward her fourth shutout.

She was finally bested in the 54th minute. From outside the right corner of the penalty area, Taryn Christoffersen towered to the far post in what appeared to Ralph to be a menacing cross into the six-yard box, but turned out to be a scorcher that she could not handle.

Ralph lunging for the ball late as it swerved toward the top of the goal, and it blasted through her hands.

Tying the game 1-1, Christoffersen was swarmed by her teammates.

From there Prep pressed further and play got testy. Referee Craig Dean issued two cautions to the Panthers for physical play that typified the intensity of the match and the emergence of junior striker Allie Picha as a full-field force for the Sparts.

In both games, Picha diversified her impact on the game – tracking back defensively, digging out 50-50 balls and finding teammates as well as unleashing her powerful shot.

Her efforts received special attention from both her coach and the Panthers.

In the 65th minute, Miller grabbed Picha’s jersey as she turned the corner at midfield, sending the Spartan down with a tackle across the legs.

That earned a free kick and a card. Ten minutes later, it was Picha again brought down en route to the penalty area, sprawling courtesy of defender Toni Carnovale.

At the final whistle, a tie was a welcome and just result, Prep holding the final edge in shots, seven to six.

Bainbridge, now 5-1-2 in Metro League play (6-1-2 overall), slipped from first place into a tie with Blanchet for second at 17 points, with Lakeside at 19 back in first after beating Holy Names 5-0 on Thursday.

Seattle Prep keeps the tough Mountain Division close with 14 points in fourth place.

Blanchet comes to Bainbridge on Oct. 19, after the Spartans travel next week to West Seattle and then to Holy Names Academy.

They return to Lakeside on Oct. 28 to close the league schedule in the Lions’ den.

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