By Josh Kirshenbaum / [email protected]
TUMWATER – The arrival of the playoffs and a rise in the stakes threw the Tumwater girls’ soccer team on the back foot for about five minutes, before the Thunderbirds hit the pace they’ve been in all along fall in a 6-0 defeat of Hockinson in the first round of the 2A District 4 tournament.
“Our kids have been intense all year,” Tumwater coach Brett Bartlett said. “We just had to let them know that the competition was going to get tougher and tougher. We train to do hard things because it won’t get easier, you’ll just get better at doing hard things well.
The win puts Tumwater one game away from the state tournament; the T-Birds can clinch their spot on Tuesday, against the winner of WF West’s game against Ridgefield.
Hockinson — the first 2A GSHL team the T-Birds have faced this season — took possession early, but all that ended up doing in the grand scheme of things was getting his back line up, how badly the wings from Tumwater wreaked absolute havoc on the counterattack.
Ava Jones showed the first flash of what was to come in the sixth minute, when she found herself behind the Hawks but was denied a one-on-one shot by a good save from the keeper. Hockinson, Ashley Suva. The chances only continued, before one led to a corner which Tumwater conceded in the 10th minute, when Sophie Boatright fired a single shot from the rebound at the back post.
From there, it was all T-Birds. In the 17th minute, Jones followed up an overrunning pass on the touchline, beat his defender to the goal line, cut and brought in a low cross to the penalty spot, where Emalyn Shaffer put it at home.
Jones finished with three assists on the game, could have had another had it not been for a 22nd-minute canceled goal, and spent most of the afternoon giving his scorers a good view of the number on his back.
“She’s a very technical player,” Bartlett said. “She can play the ball with both feet, she dribbles well, she attacks, she likes to attack. And she has extreme speed. She is also an elite sprinter. It makes it difficult, because you have a kid who is state champion as a rookie on the track, and he has to keep up.
Shaffer was the beneficiary of Jones’ three assists. She also converted a first-half penalty and netted another home ball on a through ball through the middle to finish with five goals in total, working in front of goal.
“She’s the hammer,” Bartlett said. “She just works hard. She’s fast, she’s physical, she works hard and she never gives up.
By the end of the game, the T-Birds were defending with possession, keeping the ball on the right side of the field to keep the Hawks away from anything resembling an attack. But early on, and for a few flashes of pressure from Hockinson, Tumwater’s backline had all the answers.
Goaltender Sydney Woods finished with just two saves, and in addition to cleaning up a few long balls, she spent most of the afternoon with plenty of room for offensive spectacle, as her defense dealt with just about anything. which sounded like trouble.
“They stay very well connected,” Bartlett said. “They talk to each other a lot, they are very smart defenders. They don’t make a lot of stupid decisions, but when they make a decision that doesn’t work, they cover well, and our midfielder works hard to cover, which is also very helpful.