For the Southridge High School girls soccer team, last Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Bellevue in the Class 3A state championship is starting to sting a little less.
The Suns (20-3) were state runners-up for the third consecutive year, and the satisfaction of their long-term achievements is outweighing the disappointment in not winning the first girls soccer state championship in school history.
“In the moment, it was kind of frustrating because like, I know that my team deserved it just because we’ve been there three years in a row and that’s what we worked for every single year,” senior defender Haley Thomas said. “But then when I look back on it, and I’m not in the moment like right after the game, not many teams can say they got second in state three times in a row.”
In addition to three second-place finishes at state, the Suns’ 12 seniors made four state appearances, had a 71-17 record, won two regional championships and earned 19 All-Mid-Columbia Conference honors. They also set a school record with 20 wins this season.
The only other schools to play in at least three consecutive 3A state title games since 2000 are powerhouses Seattle Prep (2007-09) and Issaquah (2005-08).
“Looking back on it, we all are really thankful for the opportunities and the success we’ve had,” senior midfielder Kelly Brown said. “We need to keep all those thoughts, like how we got there over all these other teams that haven’t even gotten there before.”
Even though Southridge lost one-goal matches in the 2014 state championship to Edmonds-Woodway and Seattle Prep in 2015, coach Greg Sambrano and the Suns thought this year’s match against Bellevue presented the best opportunity to hoist the first-place trophy.
The difference in the match was Bellevue’s JoJo Harber — who plays on the U-18 U.S. women’s national team — hitting a successful chip shot over Southridge keeper Tiara Valadez in the third minute for the only goal of the match. From then on, Southridge either controlled the momentum or went back-and-forth with Bellevue.
The Suns first-half momentum culminated in senior forward McKaley Goffard getting a break-away opportunity on Bellevue’s goal, but she collided with senior goalkeeper Madi George. George had to sit out the rest of the first half, yielding to freshman Kaatje Justus, but the Suns couldn’t capitalize.
While the team’s seniors are dealing with their high school careers ending, Sambrano — whose daughter Kayleen was a senior forward on the team — might be the one most disheartened with the season coming to a close.
“The hardest part wasn’t losing the game, it was the simple fact that it was my last opportunity to coach those 12 seniors,” Sambrano said.
Sambrano isn’t the only Sun who will miss the class of 2017.
“It was amazing; it was like playing with all of your best friends just because we’ve been playing together for so long,” Thomas said. “It made the game easier because it wasn’t just a bunch of girls playing soccer. We didn’t really have to look up as much because we knew where everybody was.”
The seniors won’t don Southridge soccer jerseys again, but almost all of them are planning to play in college.
Thomas won all-MCC first-team honors in her junior (midfielder) and senior (defender) seasons, and was one of the 2015 co-Players of the Year. She’s headed to Weber State University where she expects to continue playing on the back line.
“I would say I’m more anxious about it, because it was fun playing with girls I’ve been playing with forever, but then again it’ll be nice to kind of start over,” Thomas said.
Transitioning to play in college usually means meeting a lot of new teammates, but that won’t completely be the case for Brown, who will play at Pacific Lutheran. The Lutes’ roster features former Tri-City players Sarah Burns (sophomore, Kamiakin), Megan Zimmerman (sophomore, Tri-Cities Prep), Briana Hunting (freshman, Southridge) and Justice Aragon (freshman, Chiawana). Brown’s current teammate Savannah Brown is also committed to play at PLU.
“I’ll know some people, but everything else will be new, and I’m really excited for that,” Brown said.
Southridge seniors playing in college
Kelly Brown, M, Pacific Lutheran; Savannah Brown, M, Pacific Lutheran; McKaley Goffard, F, Eastern Washington; Miranda Nelson, M, Columbia Basin; Kendall Pope, D, Eastern Oregon; Emily Russell, D, Central Washington; Emma Schutt, M, Eastern Washington; Haley Thomas, D, Weber State.