Soccer coaches aren’t afraid of a little weather, and most players have slogged through just about anything Mother Nature can dish out.
But neither Chiawana coach Rich Zoller or Richland coach Sara Elfering were prepared for the 30 mph winds that awaited for Saturday’s District 5 championship match in Pasco.
“I told them to try to have some fun with (the wind). We weren’t going to stress about it,” Zoller said.
The Riverhawks won 3-2 after scoring three first-half goals with the wind at their back — two of them by Braydey Hodgins, the Mid-Columbia Conference scoring champ — to lift the Riverhawks to their first-ever district championship in girls soccer. To do it, they had to hold off the Bombers, who scored two second-half goals with the wind and missed a penalty kick that could have changed the outcome.
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“It has been a lot of hard work the last five years. It probably won’t hit me until tomorrow,” Zoller said. “I’m really proud of these girls. They worked hard to get ready, especially after losing the league title.”
Chiawana (15-2) will travel to Central Valley (13-1), the No. 1 seed out of the Greater Spokane League, at 5 p.m. Tuesday in a winner-to-state match. Richland (9-8) will face Mead (13-3) at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Joe Albi Stadium, the winner of which will face the Chiawana-CV loser the following Saturday for a trip to state.
Hodgins scored her 19th goal of the year just six minutes into the game and 15 minutes later added No. 20, heading in a cross from the right side to make it 2-0 Riverhawks.
“We had the wind in the first half, which was a big advantage,” Hodgins said. “(Richland) got it in the second half, and the wind picked up. We didn’t have many opportunities at all in the second half.”
Tate Kautzky scored twice for Richland in the second half, looping a shot high in the air from the right wing in the 73rd minute that caught the wind and sailed over Chiawana goalkeeper Cydni Cottrell to cut the lead to 3-2. “We knew they would come back,” Cottrell said.
Two minutes after Kautzky’s first goal, the Bombers had a chance to grab another goal after drawing a penalty kick in the 52nd minute. Senior captain Andes Archibald lined the ball up, but her shot missed wide right.
Richland’s coach, Sara Elfering, said Archibald — a four-year starter — may have rushed the shot in trying to hit it before the wind pushed it off the spot.
“Nobody feels worse about it than she does,” Elfering said. “But we still live to play another day.”
Scoring—1, C, Braydey Hodgins, 6:00; 2, C, Hodgins (Molly Sullivan), 21:00; 3, C, Lexi Ellingsen, 29:00; 4, R, Tate Kautzky (Andes Archibald), 50:00; 5, R, Kautzky, 73:00. Shots—R 17, C 17. Saves—R, Gracelyn Fine 4, Samantha Beck (40:00) 3. C, Cydni Cottrell 6.