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Whoa, Mavericks! Bainbridge wins first playoff game
EDMONDS — The Bainbridge Spartans avenged last year’s opening round loss to Meadowdale in the state girls 3A soccer playoffs by corralling the Mavericks 3-0 Tuesday.
Celia Story put Bainbridge up 1-0 in the 26th minute after Meadowdale goalkeeper Ashley Routh blocked but bobbled a hard shot on the goal by Riley Gregoire from the right corner of the box.
Story was there for the rebound and tapped it in.
“It felt very exciting to get that first goal,” Story said.
“I was trying to stay calm, because I knew it was such a good opportunity,” she recalled. “It just kind of dropped right in front of me and I popped it in.”
“I just happened to be in the right place at the right time,” Story said.
Last year, the Mavs ended the Spartans’ state run by winning in a shootout on the same field at Edmonds Stadium.
This time, Bainbridge broke Meadowdale’s 12-game win streak to end the season for the Mavs, and the Bainbridge win pushed the Spartans into the state quarterfinals for the first time since 2004.
BHS will now host Seattle Prep Friday on the Spartans’ home field at Memorial Stadium after Prep beat Hazen 4-1 Wednesday.
Against Meadowdale, Bainbridge kept the pressure on the Mavericks the entire game, with most of the play on the Mavs’ end of the field.
Meadowdale had much trouble passing in the first half, and the Spartans’ speed also gave them problems.
“We like to make it a track meet,” said Bainbridge Coach Scott Druker.
Gregoire scored the second goal for Bainbridge to put the Spartans ahead 2-0 in the 36th minute after a cross from Natalie Vukic.
“I was really, really happy,” Gregoire said of the goal, her 19th of the season.
“But I knew that it was a long game, so we still had to keep our composure,” she said.
Vukic closed out the contest with Bainbridge’s final goal with about 20 seconds left to play, on a left-footer after she slipped past two defenders, went around the outside and then slipped it between the diving goalkeeper and the left post.
“It was my last chance at goal. It felt so good, I wanted it so bad,” Vukic said. “I kept trying and trying, but I didn’t want to force it.”
It was a frantic finish, for sure.
“I knew there was a little time — I didn’t know how little. But I was like, this is the very end of the game, I might as well, you know,” she said.
Druker said the first-round matchup was a lot like last year’s, with Bainbridge’s big chances coming in the first half.
“This game, I thought we dominated a little bit more than last time,” Druker said.
“This year, they are just playing smart ball,” he said of his Spartans. “They’re clearing it when they need to, they are finding feet when they need to.”
The shutout wasn’t a surprise, however.
“You never know how a game is going to go. You’re going to have to win a 1-0 game or you’re going to have to win a 4-3 game,” Druker said.
“We haven’t been scored on a whole lot,” he added. “I’ve got three seniors in the back, too, which helps. A lot of experience — no one panicking too much — making good decisions.”
The win was Bainbridge’s first second-in-a-row victory since the Spartans stumbled in a 2-0 loss to Bishop Blanchet two weeks ago.
Since then, the team racked up wins against Lakeside (6-0) and West Seattle (3-0) but also dropped another one to Blanchet (1-0) last week.
The Spartans gutted out a 3-0 win in rainy and windy weather against West Seattle — Gregoire posted a hat trick in the contest — to advance to the matchup against the Mavericks.
Druker said the team’s effort made the difference against Meadowdale.
The only exception, he said, was a 5-minute-or-so window midway through the second half.
“I thought we didn’t pass. We started to play a little bit of watching,” he said.
“Overall, I’ll take those kind of percentages,” he quickly added, “80 to 90 percent, everybody playing, everybody contributing, everybody part of the game, everybody making plays on the ball, covering for each other. It was good team cohesiveness.”
Against Prep, Druker said the Spartans plan to change things up a bit. The two teams have battled to a draw twice this year, going 0-0 on Oct. 3 and 1-1 on Oct. 22.
“We’re going to make some adjustments, based on the results of earlier in the year,” Druker said. “And we’ll address those issues tomorrow [at Thursday’s practice].”
For now, the team is celebrating its first-round win and excited about playing in front of the home crowd Friday.
Tuesday’s victory was an emotional one, Story said.
“It was such a relief. I felt like I was almost going to start crying, because we put so much work into it. And we wanted it so bad,” she said.
“We’ve been struggling the last couple of weeks,” Story said, and that changed against the Mavs.
“We played so well together, and everyone stepped up to the plate. It wasn’t just one person. And that was the most important factor,” she said.