Grizzlies bounce into state semifinals | Girls Soccer

Brittany DiGenova and Hannah Bienkowski, front, celebrate a Bear Creek goal while Olivia Tillinghast looks on and Lizzie Udeschini runs ahead of them. - Courtesy of Camille Tillinghast
Brittany DiGenova and Hannah Bienkowski, front, celebrate a Bear Creek goal while Olivia Tillinghast looks on and Lizzie Udeschini runs ahead of them.
— image credit: Courtesy of Camille Tillinghast

Bear Creek versus Crosspoint Academy: take three.

On Friday afternoon, the Grizzlies from Redmond will hope to score a hat trick with its third victory this season over Crosspoint from Bremerton in the 1B/2B state semifinals at 2 p.m. at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.

Defending state champion Bear Creek (13-4 overall) defeated Crosspoint, 3-2 and 1-0, this season en route to winning the Sea-Tac League title. By dispatching Orcas Island, 10-1, in the 1-2 District final, Bear Creek advanced to the state final four.

The Bear Creek-Crosspoint winner will face the Napavine-Liberty Bell victor at 2 p.m. Saturday in the final at Sunset Chev Stadium. The losers will play for third and fourth place at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

Bear Creek second-year coach Brandon Gonzalez said his team is playing strong heading into state. The Grizzlies are focused and "do the small things well" when the ball is in play, he noted: they defend as a team and attack as a team, place balls wide on defense and move balls into the box on offense.

Sticking with the number three, Gonzalez focused on a trio of Grizzly players who have made an impact this season.

First, there's junior Caroline Bridgwater, the Sea-Tac League most valuable player who has notched a school-record 21 assists to go along with six goals.

"She has good vision of the field and can really take charge," said Gonzalez, adding that Bridgwater can often read the game two to three steps ahead of the other players. She also provides leadership and motivation for the Bear Creek squad.

Freshman Sara Hastings has 12 goals and five assists and "does a good job anticipating the game rather than reacting to it," Gonzalez said. Hastings scored Bear Creek's goal in its 1-0 victory over Crosspoint to clinch the league title.

Finally, there's junior defensive stopper Brittney DiGenova, an all-league first-teamer who has scored nine goals — eight of them on headers off corner kicks.

But it's her powerful slide tackles on defense that have opponents saying, "'Wow. We better step up our game,'" said Gonzalez, the Sea-Tac League coach of the year.

Other Bear Creek Sea-Tac all-league standouts include first-team freshman Jill Leszynski and senior Lizzie Udeschini and second-team junior Olivia Tillinghast.


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