Lady Bulldogs LeeAnn Rhoden and Alyx Miller try to keep the ball from Grizzly Kayci Miles. In the final minutes of the game, Hoquiam pressed for any opportunity to point on Montesano. The Bulldogs tried to keep control to deny an advantage to Hoquiam.
Bulldog forward Mackenzi Howard takes an open field shot at goal in the 37th minute of the first half of play.
ABERDEEN — A pair of back-to-back wins sends the Lady Bulldogs into post-season play.
With the Grizzlies as the only team in their way, the Bulldogs had to win twice for the chance to extend their soccer season.
In both games, the Bulldogs bested the Grizzlies 2-0 in each game.
The first game on Thursday, Oct. 25, was a home game for Montesano. It was played through on-and-off rain that made Montesano play a different game style than it is used to playing.
“We did not play to our strength,” Coach Jeff Lenherr said. “We played a more long ball game based on field conditions.”
Leading into the half, 1-0, LeeAnn Rhoden drilled the net in the 24th minute on a pass from teammate Alyx Miller. The second half score was a 16-yard putt from within the penalty box by Taylor Birdsall: Bulldogs 2, Grizzlies 0.
The Bulldog victory tied the two teams in league standings. They had to face each other again to see who would advance to District IV games in Kalama.
The field conditions in Aberdeen this time favored Montesano, as the field’s turf design makes it drain better than a traditional sod field.
The two teams faced off as if it was their last game of the season — it would be for one of them. Quick drives toward the nets tested the opposing teams’ goalkeepers early in the first minutes. The younger, Bulldog Kacie Kloempkin, was brought under Hoquiam fire repeatedly in the first 20 minutes of play. Kloempkin was able to keep her focus and deflected the few open shots on goal that Hoquiam created, keeping the score nil through the first half.
Grizzly goalkeeper Jensina Alvarenga was just as good at her end of the pitch when Montesano was awarded a corner kick in the first seven minutes of play.
It was not until late in the first 40 minutes that Montesano was able to score.
Awarded a free kick on a Hoquiam pushing violation, Bulldog Jennifer Johnson quickly put the ball in play, sending it down and center to the goal. Laying in wait was Mackenzi Howard. Howard took control of the ball, turned and faced the goal. Finding herself with room, she let loose a hard strike that rose to the top right corner of the net, just out of reach of Alvarenga. The Bulldogs took a 1-0 lead with just under three minutes to play in the first half.
The rough-and-tumble game continued after the break with each team vying for control.
The offensive strikes were quelled by the defensive lines, as the game clock kept ticking down and no real opportunities opened up for either squad.
With both teams playing a very physical game, it was only a matter of time before one would benefit from the rough play. At the 66th minute, Monteasano was awarded a penalty kick, an opportunity to cap the game with a one-on-one shooting situation. Tianna Schurr was handed the ball and drove the winner right past the Hoquiam goalkeeper.
Montesano was able to keep the Grizzlies from any final attack, taking the game, 2-0, to extend their season.
The Bulldogs were scheduled to face Woodland in Kalama at 6 p.m. Tuesday Oct. 30. Results were unavailable at deadline.