After helping the Southridge Suns girls soccer team win two CBBN 3A titles in a row and two consecutive trips to state, Emma Sanders isnt used to playing as an underdog.
Southridge coach Greg Sambrano will tell you she doesnt know how to do so.
One thing is for sure: Sanders, the Suns all-Mid-Columbia Conference central defender, sure didnt play like an underdog Thursday in Richland.
She served up a 50-yard free kick from midfield in the 45th minute during a Class 3A regional match against Hanford, dropping it right in front of the net so teammate Sarah Morgan could punch it past Falcons goalkeeper Emily Busselman in a 1-0 victory.
Then she anchored a defense that allowed just five second-half shots.
Emma is such a stud. Shes the best defender in the league. Her teammates would say the same thing, Sambrano said. Shes such a great leader.
Southridge (7-9) will face MCC champion Kamiakin (14-2-1) for a state berth at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lampson Stadium. The Suns are 0-2 against the Braves this season, losing 2-1 in both games.
Southridge was outplayed by Hanford in the first half, getting outshot 9-4 as the Falcons just missed on a handful of scoring opportunities. Bret Baysinger ran onto a slot pass from Annelise Rogalsky down the right hash 9 minutes in and shot low to the far corner. Suns keeper Mercedes Haberling had the angle, though, and stopped the shot with her right leg.
Baysinger took a pass on the right wing 9 minutes later and crossed a ball in to forward Monica Rowley, whose shot on goal went directly at Haberling for one of her 10 saves.
The Falcons had as many as six good scoring chances in the first half, but they dried up in the second half. Meanwhile, Southridge found a way to draw on the pride that made it the states top-ranked team for most of last season.
We watched them take it at us in the first half, but we reversed it, Sambrano said. The thing that really surprised me (this year), even though the wins and losses werent there, was we progressed really well. The kids started to believe they can win.
Two minutes into the second half, Suns midfielder Michelle Foster got free for a shot on goal. It didnt go, but it got the ball rolling for the Suns.
Three minutes later, Sanders set up for a free kick from just short of the center line and arced it high in the air to give her teammates time to set up under it. Emily Koehler tapped it to Morgan for the goal.
Our goal was to come out strong and play our best. We worked together and tried very hard against a competitive team, Sanders said. Im really proud. We busted our butts.
Falcons coach Mart Oostrom was hoping for another shot at Kamiakin with a state berth on the line Hanford was the only MCC team to beat the Braves during the regular season -- but hell have to wait another day to get his team back to state.
We had beaten (Southridge) twice, but when they stepped up, we couldnt answer. When it matters, we cannot do it, Oostrom said, giving props to Sanders for her hard-nosed leadership. Emma comes up and does the dirty work for them. We dont have that.
Scoring--1, S, Sarah Morgan (Emily Koehler), 45:00. Shots--S 10, H 14. Saves--S, Mercedes Haberling 10. H, Emily Busselman 4.
Mt. Spokane 2, Kamiakin 0: The Braves were shut down by the Wildcats, who got second-half goals from Alyssa Lloyd and Riley Richardson to beat the visiting team. Mt. Spokane (17-0) took advantage of a short field and some wet areas of grass that slowed the ball down dramatically for the otherwise speedy Kamiakin players.
It was really disconcerting, Braves coach Chris Erikson said. We just watched the tape from last year (a 1-0 shootout loss at Lampson Stadium in the first round of state). We were running, and they didnt keep up.
But we didnt get it done today, either.
The Wildcats outshot the Braves 12-6.
Kamiakin will face MCC rival Southridge at 1 p.m. Saturday at Lampson for the final berth to the Class 3A state tournament.
Scoring--1, MtS, Alyssa Lloyd (Danika Martin), 37:00; 2, MtS, Riley Richardson (Sydney Nelson), 67:00. Shots--K 6, MtS 12. Saves--K, Sydnee Grant 9. MtS, Shannon McReynolds 6.
Connell 2, Highland 1: Brittany Vickerman scored her second goal of the game in the 80th minute to help the Eagles secure a state berth with a victory in Royal City.
Vickerman had scored off an assist from Kyra Courneya in the 41st minute, but Highland tied it with a goal from Lauren Newman in the 60th.
Connell will open state play Tuesday at Cashmere or Quincy.
Scoring--1, C, Brittany Vickerman (Kyra Courneya), 40:32. 2, H, Lauren Newman (Reina Perez), 60:00. 3, C, Vickerman, 80:00. Shots--C 15, H 7. Saves--C, Gloria Gomez 3. H, Victoria Garcia 7.