Montesano draws first blood in battle for league crown

Sep. 29—In recent years, the battle for the 1A Evergreen League girls soccer title has been a two-horse race between the Montesano Bulldogs and Tenino Beavers.

On Tuesday, Montesano drew first blood.

Bulldogs forward Jaiden Morrison scored a spectacular first half goal and keeper Riley Timmons made some breathtaking saves late in the game to defeat Tenino 1-0 at Jack Rottle Field.

Montesano (5-1 overall, 1-0 1A Evergreen) controlled the pace and flow of the game in the first half, exhibiting poise and patience in utilizing a competent ball-control offense to create opportunities.

“When we move the ball like we did in the first half, things happen,” Montesano head coach Fidel Sanchez said after the bulk of his team’s 13 shots came in the first 40 minutes of play. “When we move the ball like that it puts a lot of pressure on the other team. If you don’t have the ball, you can’t do anything. So we had to keep the ball, we have to keep it moving and we had to make sure we take advantage those opportunities the possession gives us in the final third.”

While Monte played the majority of the first half in the Tenino end and had the lion’s share of scoring chances, the Bulldogs failed to capitalize with a goal.

Morrison consistently found room to maneuver up the left wing while midfielders Paige Lisherness and Vanna Prom maintained control of the pitch and guided Monte’s offense into scoring position. But most of Monte’s shots were off-target and when they were, Tenino keeper Trinity Tafoya made the save.

“We were a little frustrated we were not getting the quality shots. We were moving the ball really well, but we weren’t cashing in on anything.” Sanchez said.

Story continues

Just before halftime, Montesano’s persistence paid off. Morrison took possession just inside Monte territory and began making a run up the left side of the pitch. The speedy senior forward and Monte’s best scoring threat made like a tactical knife, slicing and dicing the Beavers defense in a remarkable display of skill and precision.

Morrison stutter-stepped past Tenino midfielder Alivia Hunter and then put on the brakes in a move that juked Tenino defender Kayla Feltus nearly out of her cleats. With Feltus sliding on her backside after loosing her footing, Morrison pivoted to her right and ripped a hard shot to the far-upper corner from about 15 yards out. Tafoya leaped but had no chance as the ball emphatically hit the netting to give Monte the lead.

“Yeah, it was awesome,” Sanchez said of Morrison’s highlight-reel goal that brought the Monte crowd to its feet.

But in the second half, the control of possession Monte exhibited in the first 40 minutes began to get away from them and — if not for the spectacular play of sophomore keeper Riley Timmons — it nearly cost the Bulldogs the game.

As the play turned to more of a midfield contest in the second half, Tenino started to get scoring chances, the most dangerous one coming with just over 12 minutes remaining in the game. A missed coverage in Montesano’s defensive back line created a space for Tenino forward Abby Severse, who ran through the seam and chased down a through ball on a breakaway attempt.

Timmons read the play perfectly, racing out and diving to smother Severse’s shot and preserve Monte’s one-goal lead.

Just a few minutes later, Timmons came up big again, this time leaping to make a mid-air save on a dangerous bouncing ball while surrounded by Tenino strikers. During the save, Timmons’ feet were taken out from under her and she tumbled hard to the pitch, but held on to the ball and popped right back up to clear it safely away.

Sanchez had nothing but praise for Timmons’ play after he said his team made some mistakes in the second half they will have to work on.

“I think we went away from what we wanted to do and kind of let Tenino get into the game,” he said. “That 1-v-1 she stopped, that was great. That was huge. … Man, what a way to step up.”

The opportunity turned out to be the last real threat Tenino had in the game as Monte went on to win the all-important 1-0 league contest.

Monte had 13 shots with three on goal and nine corner kicks.

Tenino (6-1, 0-1) managed two shots, one on goal and two corner kicks.

The Beavers entered Tuesday’s league-opener having outscored its opponents 27-1.

The last time the two teams got together was at the 1A District 4 Championship game in March, where the Bulldogs won 3-0 in Montesano.

Though the win is key as the league title has run thorough one of these two teams in recent memory, Sanchez said its far too early for league-title aspirations as there are still seven league games left on the schedule.

“We just keep going. … It’s one game at a time,” he said. “We celebrate it tonight, we forget about it tomorrow and we go back to work.”

Tenino 0 0 — 0

Montesano 1 0 — 1


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