It was a true team effort on Tuesday afternoon at Starfire Sports Complex in Tukwila, as the red-hot Overlake girls’ soccer team (10-0-0) broke away in the second half for a 4-1 victory over Northwest School.
Four different players scored for the Owls in the winning effort, which kept them atop the 1A Emerald City League standings at 8-0-0 in league play, with Seattle Academy (7-1-0) close behind.
“Northwest is a dangerous team,” said head coach Sally Goodspeed. “It’s always a good game between us and them, and I’m glad we came out on top.”
In the opening minutes of the game, the matchup between the two teams looked to be a good one, as both teams shared time of possession and had early shots on goal.
Sophomore midfielder Karly Scheelar scored her first goal of the season in the 10th minute, off an assist from Adrianna Gildner, putting the Owls on the board.
Overlake was able to keep Northwest at bay until a strange turn of events in the closing seconds of the first half.
After a missed opportunity in front of the Northwest goal, the opposition ran the length of the field and scored just seconds before the whistle blew.
“I wasn’t happy with the way we finished the half, to have a chance at one end and it turns into a goal for them, literally as the half was ending,’ Goodspeed recalled. “It was a momentum swing.”
After a halftime pep talk, the Owls came out with a vengeance.
First it was Kerri Smith who launched a long goal from about 25 yards into the top corner of the net in the 43rd minute, and before Northwest had a chance to catch its breath, junior forward Adrianna Gildner drilled a shot in from the right wing two minutes later to give the Owls a 3-1 lead.
“We had to change that momentum in our favor, which I’m pretty happy with the way we did that,” laughed Goodspeed on her team scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the half. “It was some good teamwork and individual efforts.”
Freshman goalkeeper Catherine Cunningham had a fine game, making a leaping save midway through the second half on a well-placed free kick, and teammate Zoe Pinczower, who shares time in goal with Cunningham, tacked on one more goal in the 62nd minute on what Goodspeed called a “great through ball,” cutting her shot in front of Northwest goalie Katie Fallon, who is leading the league with three shutouts.
The ninth-year coach also credited her defense with limiting the opportunities for Northwest’s dangerous strikers.
“They have a couple of really good players on their team that they try to play through,” Goodspeed said. “Our backs did a good job, Elena (Donaldson) and Kendall (Berg) were man-marking on those two.”
Added Gildner, who had two assists in addition to her league-leading 14th goal, “We really just started to pull through together and find each other. We also tried following our shots which made a difference, and started playing the corners which was our original goal. By doing that, we were able to beat (defenders) and work together as a team.”
Even though it might be easy to become complacent with a 10-0-0 record, the Owls know they can’t afford to take anything for granted.
The team has a tough back end their league schedule yet to play, including back-to-back games against Cedar Park Christian and the Seattle Academy Cardinals, who the Owls lost to in the 2009 1A state championship game.
“We have to stay focused in practice… keep working hard, and not get hurt,” listed Gildner as keys to the Owls’ success down the stretch. “There’s been a lot of injuries lately, but if we keep working hard in practice and apply what we learn in practice to the games, we’ll be off to a good start to (get to) state.”
Goodspeed also admitted that her team gets off to slow starts, as seen on Tuesday and also last Saturday’s game against Montesano, during which the Owls were not able to find the net until the 39th minute in an eventual 4-2 victory.
While the Owls have been a second-half team all year, the ability to put some goals on the board early would do wonders to lower Goodspeed’s blood pressure.
“If we can (score) early in games, it allows us to… feel a little more comfortable than having to struggle to get that goal or play from behind,” she explained. “Everything is one day at a time. We had players missing today, but we don’t make excuses for that – other kids really stepped up their games and have done a really good job.”
The Owls next play on Thursday against Forest Ridge at home, starting at 4 p.m.