It's Walla Walla (19-0-2) vs. Clackamas (17-2-0) for the women's NWAACC championships here at Starfire Soccer Complex in Tukwila. It's the first soccer game I've ever seen amid a snowfall. It's not a heavy fall, but it's definitely coming down.
I'm watching the game from the referees suite up in the press box, and the ones I talked to said that it would take some extreme conditions — mainly an icy field — to suspend the game, but the cold and wet conditions could definitely affect the flow of the match.
Clackamas knocked out Columbia Basin College in the quarterfinals and then erased a 2-0 deficit yesterday against Spokane — scoring twice in the final 26 minutes of regulation — and then won in a shootout. The Cougars have had an impressive run in the last six seasons, winning three NWAACC titles under coach Tracy Nelson.
Walla Walla's recent history is even more impressive. The Warriors are a fixture in the NWAACC championship game, having reached the finals in each of the last six seasons under coach Chad Bodnar. It wasn't until last season, however, that Bodnar earned his first championship ring.
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WWCC was rather impressive in a 5-1 win over Bellevue in the semifinals. Justine Jones recorded a hat trick in a game that was never close.
Not a bad start for Walla Walla. The Warriors took advantage of an early foul deep in the Clackamas zone and turned it into a 1-0 lead.
Jones took it from the left side about 2 yards off the 18-yard box and placed it perfectly. The shot dipped just under the crossbar as Cougars goalkeeper Melissa Ferguson appeared to misjudge the trajectory and might have given up on it too early.
Nearing the end of the first half, and the goal has stood up. But actually it's Clackamas who has been getting the better chances lately. Cougars defender Bailee Sanders ran onto a loose ball following a Clackamas corner kick with a good look at the frame in the 31st minute. But her shot sailed high.
A minute later, South region MVP Jennifer Jackson dribbled up the left wing and across the baseline before centering a beautiful pass to Kayra Ramirez, who was making a run from the top of the box. It should have been a goal, but Ramirez's shot from right in front of the net came off the top of her foot and went over the crossbar.
Becky Ryerse nearly made it 2-0 just before the end of the first half, beating Ferguson to the ball on the left side of the Cougars' box and dribbling around her for an angled shot on an open net. It looked like it might tuck inside the far post, but it banged into it and bounced away.
That's the end of the first half. 1-0 Walla Walla.
Walla Walla picks up goal No. 2 in the 65th minute. Margo Hickman made a run from midfield and got the top of the Clackamas box. She put just the perfect touch on it, rolling it inside the right post for her 28th goal of the year.
It looked like a goal that could have been prevented, however. The Cougars' backside defense got a little soft, allowing Hickman to sneak past unmarked into open space. That's not a player you want to lose track of.
Down to the final minutes now with Warriors still up 2-0. If it holds, this would be Walla Walla's second straight title under Chad Bodnar, who was beaten by Clackamas and their coach Tracy Nelson in 2005 and 2007 in the title game on this field.
And there's the final whistle. Congrats Warriors!