The four teams pairing off in the state 4A girls soccer semifinals today in Puyallup know each other very well.
But in these cases, familiarity has bred respect.
The opener pairs Skyline and Tahoma in yet another crossing of paths that includes the two previous state playoffs.
The nightcap matches Bellarmine Prep and Gig Harbor, whose common threads reach beyond their Narrow League rivalry.
“I’m the coaching director (at Harbor Premier) in Gig Harbor, so a lot (of Tides players) play on our club … ,” Bellarmine Prep coach Joe Waters said. “ … Dani States, who is the coach at Gig Harbor, played for my wife, Sue, at PLU when she coached there – she was one of our captains. So there’s a lot of intertwining stuff.”
Bellarmine Prep swept the two regular-season meetings, winning 2-1 on the road and 4-0 at home.
However, Waters said his team isn’t overconfident. And States said her team isn’t afraid.
“My girls are completely confident,” she said. “… It’s not like, ‘Well, we lost to them both times and never beat them. Let’s not play them.’ They wanted them. … The girls have played outstanding this season so I think they’re totally excited to show Bellarmine who they are, because haven’t been able to show it.”
The other 4A semifinal is the rubber match of teams meeting in the playoffs for the third straight season. Skyline won on penalty kicks in 2009, while Tahoma won 1-0 in regulation last season.
“The teams know, I think, that we’re pretty evenly matched,” Bears coach Jason Johnson said. “… We have a pretty young team; and they’ve had to replace some pretty substantial talent – but they always seem to do it up at Skyline. So, different teams, but mentally we know each other so well there’s definitely a pattern there that I think both teams know about.”
All teams could face a couple of wild-card factors.
One is the weather, with cold, rain and perhaps even snow showers forecast.
“It’s not like it’s foreign to us,” States said. “We’ve been practicing in it. We’ve been playing in it.”
There also is the matter of a quick turnaround, because the consolation and championship matches run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
“I think the two games in 24 hours is in some ways an advantage because you don’t have to think too much,” Johnson said. “Sometimes when teams have to think too much you can start planning for your opponent too many days in advance and you start forgetting what you do well.”
Don Ruiz, 253-597-8808 firstname.lastname@example.org twitter/donruiztnt blog.thenewstribune.com/preps