Sports

Gators shoot into state soccer playoffs

By CASEY OLSON

Sports editor

The pressure was on and the Decatur soccer team had the player they wanted in the spotlight in captain Amanda Font . The senior came through with the match-winning goal. A goal that sent the Gators into the Class 4A State Soccer Playoffs for the first time in three years.

The Gators (12-3-3) downed the Mountain View Thunder (10-3-4) Saturday at Camas High School, 3-2, in a penalty kick shootout in the West Central District playoffs to become one of the final 16 teams in the state still playing.

Font had the chance every soccer player dreams about thanks to a pair of shootout saves from junior goalkeeper Kristen Johnson. If she put the ball in the back of the net, the Gators advanced to the state tournament. She put the ball in the back of the net.

“It was really exciting and great,” Font said. “The last three seasons have ended in PK’s (penalty kicks). Everyone was really excited that we’re going on.”

The goal gave Decatur a 4-3 advantage after five shots in the shootout and moved them into the first round of the state playoffs. The Gators will take on South Kitsap at 7 p.m. at Federal Way Memorial Stadium tonight. The winner will play again Friday or Saturday in the state quarterfinals against the winner of a match between Edmonds-Woodway and Gig Harbor.

Saturday, the penalty kick shootout was necessitated by the Gators and Mountain View playing to a 2-2 tie during regulation. All four goals were scored in the first half. Decatur’s Kelsey Lusebrink tallied Decatur’s first goal on a pass from Jordann Gilmer. Mountain View came right back and tied the game on a goal from Lynsey Stepan.

Decatur’s Nicole Collins gave the Gators a 2-1 lead on an unassisted goal, but, again, the Thunder tied the game on a goal from Stacey Bennett. The game then was handed to the two goalkeepers. Johnson made seven saves during the game and Mountain View’s Mallory Schott stopped 11 Gator shots.

“It was really back and forth,” Font said. “We got the lead and they came right back.”

After 80 minutes of regulation, the match then went to a pair of five-minute, sudden-death overtime periods, which both went by without any goals — sending the match to penalty kicks.

“There weren’t really any close ones during the overtime,” Font said.

In the shootout, Decatur made their first three penalty kicks on shots from Brittany Gilmer, Collins and Clare Brown, who happen to be all seniors. The three shots gave Decatur a 3-2 lead in the shootout thanks to a Johnson stop on Mountain View’s first shooter, Kristen Burmaster. The two teams then exchanged a pair of misses from Decatur’s Caitlin Britt and Mountain View’s Marta Tenold, before the Thunder’s Kelly Stecker tied the shootout at 3-3 with just Font to shoot.

The start of the Decatur/Mountain View game was delayed about 30 minutes because the Gators were late after the team bus broke down near Olympia and another bus had to be sent down.

The Gators’ next opponent, South Kitsap, beat Auburn Riverside, 2-1, Saturday in a West Central District game at Stadium Bowl. Auburn Riverside was the third-place team from the South Puget Sound League North Division and lost to Decatur last week at the league tournament, 1-0, to earn the SPSL’s sixth-seed into districts.

The Wolves finished 15-2 during the regular season in the Narrows League Bridge Division and are a team that prides itself on defense.

Karla Myles, Stephanie Milne, Kristine Siler and Naomi Burt man the back line for South Kitsap. It’s a group, with senior Ricci Kranjcevich in goal, that has allowed just 10 goals in 17 games this year, including 10 shutouts.

Offensively, the Wolves are led by scorers Randee Robinson and Alex Michael.

The Gators are led by the offense of Brittany Gilmer and Collins. Gilmer tallied seven goals and two assists during the regular season and Collins had six goals for Decatur.

Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, sports@fedwaymirror.com

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