Southridge Suns vs. Seattle Prep Panthers at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood about to kick off.
There's a little bit of rain that might make the field somewhat slick. But the Suns faced the same conditions in their quarterfinal win over Decatur last Saturday in Federal Way. Even though Southridge plays and practices on grass at home, turf is not such a strange beast for them.
As I pulled into the stadium, I saw another bus from the Kennewick school district pulling up with a load of fans. The Suns sure do travel well. I'm counting over 100 fans, including a good-sized student section, on the Southridge side as opposed to about 50 on the Seattle Prep side.
Glad to see everybody made it out here safe. I drove out late last night, and while the conditions weren't too bad, the snow was still falling and the temperature below freezing.
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Anyway, both teams ready to go. Here's the kickoff....
Ten minutes in and neither team has had any great chances yet. Both sides still sizing each other up.
Seems like Southridge is possessing well, though. The Suns appear to be holding the ball in the Panthers' half effectively. Maybe just a matter of time before a good shot opens up.
One thing I noticed is that No. 21 for the Panthers — freshman midfielder Jeney McAuley — has a monster throw in. Reminded me of a Suns midfielder from a few years back who could heave the ball a good 30-40 yards in the air.
Could be trouble if the Panthers start getting some pressure on the Suns' zone.
Nearing the end of the first half and still a pretty even game. Seattle Prep has some dangerous player on set pieces, mainly the ones delivering the ball. There's McAuley on throw ins and Alexus Shefts, who swings a nice ball in front of the net on corner kicks. Then on long free kicks, they've got their sweeper, Kaylen Huebner, who can put it on frame from about 40 yards out.
So far, Southridge has managed to clear out any dangerous services inside the box. But my guess is, if Prep is going to score a goal it's going to come off a set piece.
I was wrong.
Seattle Prep's first goal did not come off a set piece. Instead, it was midfielder Emma Healey, who controlled a pass just inside the 18-yard box from the left hash and lifted a soft liner over Suns keeper Ingrid Stein into the far corner of the net for a 1-0 lead with just two minutes remaining in the half.
The shot was well-placed but it looked like Healey went unmarked for some time, allowing her to get the shot off.
Meanwhile, the Suns' chances on offense have dried up a bit, and the Panthers have been spending a lot of time in the Southridge back third.
At the half, I've got each team with two shots, but Seattle Prep has had four corner kicks to just one for Southridge. Prep has definitely gotten the better of the chances so far, but this game is still pretty much wide open.
Southridge prides itself on being a good comeback team. They erased a two-goal deficit a couple weeks ago against Mt. Spokane. The Suns eventually lost that game 3-2, but they proved to themselves that they can make a strong push when their backs are against the wall.
1-0 Seattle Prep after 40 minutes. Second half action to come.
Looks like a few more fans have filtered into the Prep side of the grandstands. I just remembered, too, that it is still a school day and school doesn't get out until just before 3.
The Panthers get another on a breakaway by forward Gio Plater, their top playmaker. I didn't see who sent the pass up, but it was a nice through ball to the right hash. Plater took it in stride, took a couple of touches from about 30 yards and punched it past Stein, who was coming out to cut off the angle.
Seattle Prep 2-0 with 24 minutes to play.
The Suns are getting some opportunities now, starting to pressure up top a little more. They've outshot the Panthers 9-3 in the first 30 minutes of the second half with nothing to show for it.
Only one really good chance so far for Southridge, a loose ball in front of the net that Brooke Benecke got a good boot on, putting it on frame from point-blank range with the keeper out of position. But a Prep defender managed to get in front of the shot to block it.
Just under four minutes left and still 2-0 Seattle Prep. Paige Sorenson, one of Suns captains and a major field presence, just left the game with what looked like a head injury. I didn't see the contact but she went down hard and stayed down. She got up on her own power a few minutes later. Still a scary thing. You never want to assume anything with a head injury.
It's a final. 2-0 Prep.
A good win for the Panthers, who scored a couple of very nice goals. The Suns didn't play badly but didn't get any breaks at all. Maybe better luck tomorrow.