As it developed, Seton Catholic didn’t need to put the ball in the back of the net to end Montesano’s girls soccer season. The front of the net proved sufficient.
Jorie Freitag’s wind-aided shot that crawled across the goal line in the 58th minute gave Seton Catholic a 1-0 victory over the Bulldogs in a District IV Class 1A play-in contest Saturday at Aberdeen’s blustery Stewart Field.
By surviving the loser-out contest, the Cougars from Vancouver advanced to another elimination match at White Salmon tonight.
Montesano’s season ended at 12-5.
This was a particularly tough loss for the Bulldogs to take. Although they had only modest advantages in shots on-goal (10-6) and on-target attempts (6-3), they maintained possession for perhaps 80 percent of the match.
A tough Seton Catholic defense made it difficult for the Bulldogs to launch quality shots. Monte also had difficulty adjusting to a strong wind that gusted up to perhaps 30 mph.
“The wind was definitely a factor,” Bulldog coach Jeff Lenherr said. “Even on the ground, (the ball) would change direction and through balls were hard to read.”
Montesano, which lost ace forward LeeAnn Rhoden to an ankle injury in the first half, was also making its season debut on synthetic turf.
“The combination of the turf and the wind took half a game to figure out,” Lenherr added.
That proved an unfortunate circumstance for the Bulldogs, who had the wind at their backs in the first half.
The wind even played a role in the winning goal.
Splitting the Monte defense to take a through ball midway through the second half, Freitag launched a shot from just inside the penalty area.
Bulldog goalkeeper Kasie Kloempken made a diving stop about five yards in front of the net. When the ball got behind her, however, the tailwind helped push it slowly across the goal line.
Operating against the wind, the Bulldogs had only a couple of decent scoring opportunities in the remaining 22 minutes.
Taylor Birdsall made a nice run up the middle and sent a pass to Makenzi Howard along the left wing with seven minutes remaining. But Seton Catholic’s Brynna Freitag rode Howard off the play.
About one minute later, Monte sophomore Jennifer Johnson’s 25-yard free kick was easily gathered in by freshman goalkeeper Amy Fraizer.
Perhaps Montesano’s best chances came early in the second half. Howard shot wide on about a 15-yard attempt in the 46th minute.
Howard was poised to go one-one-one against Fraizer after taking another pass from Birdsall in the 49th minute but was ruled offside.
Rhoden was helped off the field with what Lenherr described as a serious ankle injury in the 15th minute. Senior midfielder Alyx Miller was sidelined with a sprained knee and Howard was also shaken up in the first half. Both of the latter two returned, but Lenherr said Miller was notably slowed by the injury.
Seniors Rhoden, Miller, Madi Besaw and Rayna Ashlock closed out their prep careers.
“This is the first time in six years we’ve missed state,” Lenherr noted. “Hopefully, that will make them hungrier next year.”