PUYALLUP Losing a championship can be even more painful than not getting there in the first place.
But the tears, for the most part, stopped flowing when the cheers went up to celebrate Kamiakins second-place finish at the Class 3A state girls soccer finals Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
Im just so proud of this team, senior defender Lauren McKinney said. Were a family. We probably wouldve had just as many tears win or lose. Im just going to miss all these girls.
The Braves fell 2-1 to Liberty, a team built on pure hope after losing seven starters last season. Both teams were looking for the first state title in program history.
Im proud of them. They came a long ways, said Kamiakin coach Chris Erikson, who fell to 0-3 in championship games.
Liberty delivered a big blow in the first 30 seconds of the game, as Sami Harrel sent in a cross from the left wing to Sydney Abel at the far post, catching the Braves defense off balance.
Part of it was we had to wait before the game, McKinney said of the game the Class 4A consolation final that preceded the 3A championship. Its hard to get your mojo when you have to wait an extra 20 minutes during warmups.
Erikson said the cross should never have been made.
We made a few mistakes before that, Erikson said. Its never one persons fault. Its usually several things that happen.
Liberty coach Tami Nguyen was happy with the early goal
You like to go up one, but you dont want your team to relax, said Nguyen, who is in her second year of coaching with the Patriots. These last few playoff games weve been a second half team, so we felt good about the goal.
Kamiakin tied things up 16 minutes later when Ellie Heiden robbed Liberty defender Hannah Van Amen in the Pats defensive third and was then knocked down by Van Amen and sweeper Shaniah Adriano in an attempt to get it back.
Alicia Nguyen then converted the penalty kick to equalize the score, driving a low shot past Katie McGuire into the right corner.
Heiden played through obvious pain, staying on the ground a few extra beats after hitting the ground. Late in the game, she took another hard foul to set up a Kamiakin free kick, and again she peeled herself off the turf with the hope of giving the Braves another chance.
I couldnt ask for more from this team, senior midfielder Brianna Turley said. There were a few things we could have done better. But we almost came back at them and got a second goal.
Liberty went ahead 2-1 in the 54th minute, when Abel returned the favor to Harrel, sending in a soft cross from deep on the right wing. Harrel hit the ball on a full volley from 14 yards out, sending it to the far upper corner.
There was nothing we could have done, Turley said.
Liberty was still mourning the passing of a former classmate Kentridge junior Teagan McGinnis, a former Liberty student who died in a car accident two weeks ago and wore wristbands with his initials to honor his memory.
Thats not the only inspiration they had.
Its a lot of emotions. Its unbelievable we made it this far, Abel said of a team that lost seven starters last season. Its awesome to do it for the 10 seniors we have.
SCORING 1, L, Sydney Abel (Sami Harrel), 0:30; 2, K, Alicia Nguyen (PK), 16:00; 3, L, Harrel (Abel), 54:00. SHOTS L 13, K 8. SAVES L, Katie McGuire 2. K, Kelci Young 5.