In a soccer battle royale between the Eastlake Wolves and the Glacier Peak Grizzlies on Saturday, the Wolves delivered a stunning 3-1 victory, including a slow rolling third goal, to win their first game in district playoffs.
Eastlake forward Grace Kinney brought the crowd to their feet several times with a hat trick — the scoring of three goals — playing a crucial role for the Wolves’ victory.
“She’s just a stud, she works hard all the time and puts herself in position in front of the goal,” Eastlake coach Molly Hill said of Kinney’s performance.
As both teams settled into a rhythm, play seemed slow in the opening ten minutes of the match. The back and forth, up and down ball movement on the pitch only increased tensions for both teams, bringing the crowd along for a pressure-filled ride.
As Eastlake forward Katie Bradford sprinted towards the goal flanked by two Grizzly defenders, spectators jumped to their feet, cheering for a possible goal. However, gameplay paused when Grizzly Samatha Zylstra and Bradford crashed into each other and fell to the ground.
Coach Hill took the opportunity to sub in Kinney and change the momentum. Not one to disappoint, Kinney made quick progress down field but missed the shot, which only further amped up the spectators. After a series of throw-ins, corner kicks, and free kicks, with eight minutes left until halftime, Kinney sprinted toward the Grizzly goal and found the net for the Wolves.
With little time left, the crowd and the Eastlake coach all shouted “one more before half.” Unfortunately for Eastlake, it was not to be. The Wolves mis-stepped and were called for a penalty, allowing the Grizzlies a free kick that tied the game at 1-1 to end the half.
Knowing the high stakes of this game, both teams returned from the break with even more aggressive play. Several players argued with the referees for seemingly unfair calls, forcing a game slowing, tension building number of free kicks due to player misdemeanors.
But Eastlake was not deterred and stuck to their strategy. With a swift kick from Kinney into the goal shortly into the second half, the Wolves regained the lead, 2-1.
With two minutes remaining on the clock, Eastlake’s Kinney and Glacier Peak’s Ava Thomas found themselves face to face in front of the Glacier Peak goal. Thomas, in an attempt to block Kinney’s shot, threw herself on the ground. As the ball escaped, it made a slow-motion, time stopping roll into the goal, bringing the cheering Eastlake fans to their feet in disbelief.
The heart pounding match ended with a final score of 3-1 for the Wolves.
“At this point in the season, you have to win to advance, so we knew what was on the line, and we took care of business,” Coach Hill said.