The Kamiakin girls soccer team had a script already in mind for Saturday’s Class 3A regional championship at Lampson Stadium.
Their opponent, the Mt. Spokane Wildcats, served up a pair of playoff losses to the Braves last season in Spokane, the last of which eliminated them from the postseason.
The main themes? Redemption. Revenge. Rejoicing.
But Kamiakin needed someone to step up into a starring role when the Wildcats took a 1-0 first-half lead. Luckily, Ellie Heiden knows a little something about living in the spotlight.
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Heiden helped create the Braves’ game-tying goal by Parker Lee and scored the game-winner on a breakaway in double overtime to lift Kamiakin to a 2-1 win for its first regional title since 2009 and a No. 1 seed to the Class 3A state tournament.
The Braves (18-1) will host Peninsula (11-6-1), which beat Enumclaw 2-1 to advance to state, at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Lampson Stadium.
“It’s more than just a win. You could tell we both wanted it. It just came down to who could hold on the longest,” said Heiden, who scored her 13th goal of the year. “At halftime, we realized, ‘Hey, we could lose this.’
“Coach (Chris Erikson) came into the locker room and said, ‘Do you want this or not? You need to focus.’ ”
Kamiakin, which was outshot 4-1 by Mt. Spokane in the first half, got the better of the second-half chances, outshooting the Wildcats 7-3. In fact, the Braves could have ended it in regulation if not for a pair of diving saves by Mt. Spokane goalkeeper Shannon McReynolds.
“We obviously were a little nervous, but we knew we could get them if we played our game, which we did,” Lee said. “We knew we were going to get that goal.”
Lee just didn’t figure she would be the one to get it.
Kamiakin finally broke through in the 66th minute, when Heiden lined up for a direct free kick just outside the Wildcats’ 18-yard box.
“I normally try to shoot over the goalkeeper, but their goalie is really tall. So I had to change things up,” Heiden said.
Heiden’s low shot ricocheted off Mt. Spokane’s defensive wall and trickled over to Lee, who was positioned near the top of the box.
Erikson held her breath as Lee stepped into the shot.
“In practice, she hits everything 10 yards over the top of the goal,” Erikson said.
But this one was true, beating McReynolds to the low right corner for the equalizer.
When neither team could convert in the final 14 minutes of regulation and first eight minutes of overtime, it was Heiden’s time to put her speed on display.
She had to wait a full year to show Mt. Spokane just how fast she was. During their two playoff meetings last season, the Wildcats — who hosted both games — smartly chose a smaller field to take away the Braves’ speed advantage.
In the fourth minute of the second overtime, however, Heiden got a chance to stretch her legs, getting loose on the Mt. Spokane end flanked by two defenders. She shook off the defenders, both of them falling to the turf, and prepared herself for a shot.
“My thought process was, don’t panic. Be composed,” Heiden said. “I took a touch and saw that the goalkeeper was higher off the ground than she should have been. So I played it right underneath her.
“My last thought was, ‘Don’t blow this.’ ”
The players waited for the officials to confer and rule that Heiden was onside. When the play was ruled a goal, Braves players sprinted out to Heiden in celebration.
“Ellie’s finish was incredible. When she makes her mind up, it’s just beautiful,” Erikson said.
Scoring—1, MtS, Brittney Sanders (Mackenzi Gray), 23:00; 2, K, Parker Lee (Heiden), 66:00; 3, Ellie Heiden, 88:00. Shots—MtS 7, K 8. Saves—MtS, Shannon McReynolds 2. K, Kelci Young 2.