Keep your eye on the ball.
The mantra that has helped so many baseball players through the years helped Southridge goalkeeper Ingrid Stein during the Suns 2-1 shootout victory over West Valley on Wednesday in Kennewick.
The Southridge win clinched the Suns' second trip to state in program history -- they also went in 2007, losing to West Valley in the first round. This time, Southridge will play host to Mt. Spokane -- which beat Hanford 2-1 in a shootout at Joe Albi Stadium -- at 1 p.m. Saturday. The Falcons, meanwhile, will visit the Rams in Yakima on Saturday in a loser-out contest for the third and final berth to the 3A state tournament.
"We had beaten West Valley twice already, and it's hard to beat a good team two times, let alone three times," said Suns coach Riley Dodson. "Ingrid was huge. You always want your keeper to make one save in a shootout. She's got a lot of confidence in her game."
Stein, a junior, stopped two Rams' spot kicks after the game stayed knotted at 1 through two five-minute overtime periods, giving Southridge a comfortable margin of error. As it turned out, the Suns didn't commit many in the shootout, hitting 3 of 4 kicks against West Valley keeper Stephanie Gibson to win in four rounds.
The Rams also missed one kick, as Jaden Gjestrum sent her Round 3 attempt wide left.
Stein admitted not being entirely comfortable with shootouts ("They're my biggest fear," she said) but managed enough poise and confidence to keep control of the situation.
"I have my own little routine," she said. "I watch where the shooter positions the ball. Then I take a step back and don't take my eye off the ball."
Her strategy worked. Against Ashley Richardson in the first round, Stein dove to her right to block the shot. Then in the fourth round, she dove to her left to stop Kelsey Dolquist's low liner, clinching the win.
"I couldn't feel any better right now," said Stein, who allowed a second-half goal by Richardson in the 52nd minute to tie the score. "When they scored, I was worried they'd get another. But there was no way I was going to let that happen.
"Our defense played awesome. I'm very proud of them."
Senior midfielder Paige Sorenson gave Southridge a 1-0 lead 19 minutes into the game. She launched a left-footed laser from the left wing that beat keeper Rozlyn Pratt, somehow tucking itself into the near corner of the frame.
"I hurt my hip in previous years, so I've been working on shooting with both feet," Sorenson said. "It was pretty much just luck."
Scoring—1, S, Paige Sorenson, 19:00; 2, WV, Ashley Richardson (Courtney Buchanan), 52:00.
Shootout goals — WV, Courtney Buchanan; S, Kat Tsoukalas, Heather Johnson, Emma Sanders.
Shots—WV 6, S 16. Saves—WV, Rozlyn Pratt 3, Stephanie Gibson (40:00) 1. SR, Ingrid Stein 1.