Summer Yates knew that an early goal could open the floodgates for the Chiawana High School girls soccer team.
Boy, did it.
The Mid-Columbia Conference Player of the Year scored off a corner kick in the 5th minute against Lewis and Clark on Saturday to help the host Riverhawks blow past the Tigers 4-0 in a winner-to-state, loser-out game of the Class 4A District 8 playoffs.
“I knew they were going to be coming at me pretty hard, so I thought just one goal could really open it up,” said Yates, a senior. “We’re really excited. We’ve been training super hard and we’re ready to go far this time around.”
Despite earning three state berths in as many years (four in their short history), the Riverhawks have never advanced past the first round of the playoffs. Changing that this year will no doubt be a challenge as they open against Big 9-champ Wenatchee (13-2), with a kickoff scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Apple Bowl.
“We feel really prepared for this,” Yates said. “Hopefully having to go on the road doesn’t hurt us too much.”
Set pieces were kind to Chiawana (14-5) against LC, as all four of its goals came off corner kicks. Macey Morales booted one in the 25th minute that got lost in a scrum and found the back of the net, and Kylee Alvarez finished on another Morales corner in the 35th to make it a 3-0 lead at half.
“We talked about getting off to a fast start, and that was what we needed to do tonight,” Chiawana coach Rich Zoller said. “Just to settle ourselves down, settle our nerves. Any time you can get an early goal, it helps calm things down.”
The Riverhawks added one more score, in the 43rd, with JuliAnna Ventura controlling a cross in and finding Ruthie Edrington in the middle of a crowd for a 4-0 game.
Abby Whiston got the shutout in goal for Chiawana, but it wasn’t for lack of trying by LC. The Tigers (11-5-2) ratcheted up the intensity in the second half, and in the span of 5 minutes saw a shot hit the left post and carom the length of the goal line, and Whiston miss on a ball that just slid past an open left post again.
But it wasn’t enough to crack the scoreboard, or to prevent Chaiwana from earning its third straight loser-out victory.
“Defensively, I don’t think we really let them get into a rhythm, especially in the first half and even early in the second,” Zoller said. “We got a little sloppy there toward the end and they were able to get a couple shots ... but I think overall we played really good team defense tonight.”
Scoring: C, Macey Morales G, A; Summer Yates G; Kylee Alvarez G; Ruthie Edrington G; JuliAnna Ventura A.