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Decatur rolls into state quarterfinals
By CASEY OLSON
The chant of quarterfinals rang out from a small, but boisterous crowd across a frigid Federal Way Memorial Stadium Wednesday night following a 1-0 shutout of the South Kitsap Wolves.
The nail-biting win earned the Gators one of eight remaining spots in the Class 4A State Soccer Playoffs and a match-up with the Gig Harbor Tides at 7 p.m. at Curtis High School tonight for a berth into the Final Four.
Thats a good team we played today, Gator coach Brandon Frederick said about the Wolves.
The game was as close as the final score indicated. The two defensive-oriented teams exchanged big plays from their back lines and both limited their offenses to no goals.
The lone score of the match wasnt even tallied by a Decatur player. Nine minutes into the second half, Decatur center midfielder Brittany Gilmer sent a ball at the net from about 30-yards out. The ball sailed over the head of South Kitsap goalkeeper Ricci Kranjcevich, but hit off the top post and ricocheted straight up just a few yards in front of the goal. Freshman forward Jordann Gilmer tried to head the ball into the net. She missed luckily. A South Kitsap defender then accidentally kicked the ball past Kranjcevich to put the Gators up 1-0.
Well take it, Frederick said. We got the win and thats all that matters.
The Gators looked pretty sluggish during the opening half. The Wolves used long passes and controlled a lot of the action during the opening 40 minutes of play thanks to numerous Decatur fouls and their team speed.
South Kitsap had five solid scoring chances during that time, including a Cassie Brown shot that bounced off the left post behind Decatur goalkeeper Kristen Johnson with 10 minutes left in the half.
They put a lot of pressure on us, Frederick said. We went in at half looking like we were a little slow. We knew we had to come out and play better in the second half.
Decatur did just that. The Gators used a controlled passing game and put a lot more pressure on the South Kitsap defense.
Basically, coach kind of pumped us up and got our heads back into the game, junior defender Leana Pomeroy said.
But even by controlling a lot more of the action, the Wolves still had scoring opportunities. The best of those came with 16 minutes left in the second half. The Gators were holding the 1-0 lead when South Kitsap sent a ball at the Decatur goal, which forced Johnson out to make the save. But the ball bounced away from the Gator keeper to South Kitsaps Randee Robinson, who sent a shot at the wide open net.
Pomeroy appeared out of nowhere to defect the shot away and preserve the 1-0 Decatur lead.
I saw it coming and it was going into the goal, Pomeroy said. I thought that I better get my butt back there. That situation has happened many times this year.
Following the near-goal, the Gators never really were threatened in the final 16 minutes.
In the second half we really used a controlled passing game, Frederick said.
The Gators will need more of the same tonight against Gig Harbor, but if past results hold true Decatur looks to have a pretty good shot at playing in the state semifinals.
The Tides earned the third seed from the Narrows League after finishing the regular season with a 13-4-0 record. Gig Harbor finished behind South Kitsap in the Narrows Bridge Division and lost to the Wolves 3-1 Oct. 14 to lose control of the league championship.
During the postseason, Gig Harbor has beaten Vancouvers Skyview of Vancouver in a loser-out West Central District match Saturday and upset Edmonds-Woodway High School Wednesday in the first round of the state playoffs, 2-0.
The Tides Dolly Enneking scored the game winner just two minutes into the match with Edmonds-Woodway, the champs of the Northwest 4A League. Kelly Irving added Gig Harbors other goal in the 68th minute.
The Tides have used defense, much like Decatur, to advance into the state quarterfinals. Goalkeeper Jamie Souza has an amazing 13 shutouts during the season.
The Gators are the lone remaining member of the South Puget Sound League in the state playoffs. Curtis, Kentridge, Puyallup and Kentlake were all beaten Wednesday night in the first round of action. Decatur tied for first in the SPSL South with Curtis and Puyallup, but were awarded the leagues third seed because of tiebreakers. The Gators downed Greater St. Helens champion Mountain View in a shootout Saturday in a loser-out, West Central District match to earn the match with South Kitsap.
Sports editor Casey Olson: 925-5565, email@example.com