Kamiakin coach Chris Erikson pulled junior forward Lexi McQueary aside before Saturday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal matchup and gave her some food for thought.
“I told her, ‘I see first-half shots, and I see second-half shots, and there’s nothing there (from you in the second half).’ She said, ‘That’s not true’, and I said, ‘OK, maybe there’s one there,” Erikson said.
“But Lexi McQueary needs to take shots, because she’s a good shooter,” Erikson said. “She just smiled and saild, ‘OK, coach.’ ”Then McQueary got down to the business of taking maybe the biggest shot of her young soccer career.
She fought off a defender and controlled a midfield service from Heather Donais before drilling a low shot past Mt. Spokane goalkeeper Shannon McReynolds in the 71st minute to give Kamiakin a 1-0 win over the Wildcats.
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The win gives Kamiakin (20-1) a spot in the Class 3A semifinals at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup, where the Braves will face Bellevue (16-3), a 2-1 winner over Auburn Mountainview, at 2 p.m. Friday.
“They’re all going to be good. Bellevue has a lot of club players, but I contend that we have great athletes,” Erikson said. “We’re just going to play.”
Saturday’s finish was a direct contrast to last season, when Mt. Spokane beat Kamiakin twice in the playoffs, including a quarterfinal elimination. This time, it was the Wildcats’ turn to make the long trip home.
“We’ve been playing each other so often. It’s a pity the bracket has to be that way. You’ve got two really good squads, and someone has to knock each other off,” Mt. Spokane coach Ryan Campanella said. “Our girls were happy to be in the elite eight for three years in a row. All I can ask is that they play their best, and they did that.”
McQueary not only had to make sure she was onsides when Donais lifted the pass from midfield, she also had to fight through a tough Mt. Spokane back line to get to the ball.
“There was one girl hanging off my arm, but I got past and saw the goalie shift one way,” McQueary said. “We do a lot of those kind of pattern plays in practice. Heather and I have been playing soccer together since fourth grade. She knew I was supposed to be there, and I knew that was my spot to be at.”
Donais also had the task of delivering the ball in just the right spot.
“We talked about that play in the locker room,” Donais said. “From looking at film, we knew their defensive position was flat. They were guarding Ellie (Heiden) the entire time, so someone else had to step up.”
Heiden, the Mid-Columbia Conference player of the year, battled a sore back all day, and was questionable even coming into the game. Still, she found a way to play and make a difference.
“She’s a real trooper,” Erikson said. “Her preference would have been not to play, but even hurt she’s a real force.”
Scoring—1, K, Lexi McQueary (Heather Donais), 71:00. Shots—MtS 8, K 16. Saves—MtS, Shannon McReynolds 3. K, Kelci Young 2.