Issaquah wasn’t taking any chances with Jackson.
The Timberwolves feature a host of top players and have been known for big, come-from-behind victories, such as the district championship last week and the state semifinals last season.
“In the state tournament you play until the whistle blows,” said Issaquah head coach Tom Bunnell.
Which is how the Eagles beat Jackson 8-2 in the opening round of the state playoffs.
Even though Issaquah (13-2-2) led by at least three goals for most of the game, the Eagles didn’t let up the offensive attack.
“I’ve been in this way too long to know what happens,” Bunnell said. “I’ve seen it. I’ve been a victim to it. It’s so important that they kept on it, and kept playing.”
Issaquah will play the winner of tomorrow’s Kentridge vs. Curtis game in the state quarterfinals this weekend.
Issaquah has an incredibly balanced offense – seven girls on the roster have scored at least four goals – and it showed tonight. Eight different players had a hand in tonight’s scoring. Forward Catey Nelson had a hat trick, and Alina Ruzicka scored twice.
Nelson scored the first goal two minutes into the game. She also scored off a flick from Mariah Van Halm in the 26th minute and off her own corner kick seven minutes later.
This was the first game Nelson took Issaquah’s corner kicks after midfielder Claudia Longo injured her knee.
“Our team is focused on confidence,” Nelson said. “I think this game will help us in upcoming games, because when we start finishing and getting used to scoring we can apply that to other games.”
Ruzicka also scored in the 17th minute off an assist from Van Halm.
Nelson and Ruzicka, both sophomores, are part of Issaquah’s younger group of leaders who have stepped into a more prominent role this season.
“They’re not afraid, and that’s really cool,” Bunnell said.
Jackson (15-3-1) got on the board in the 35th minute when Drew Locknane crossed the ball to freshman Keile Hansen, who knocked it in.
After the half, Issaquah’s Carly Danner scored an unassisted goal from 34-yards out, and Jackson’s Locknane matched it 12 minutes later with an unassisted goal from 14-yards out.
Issaquah scored three goals in the last nine minutes of the game: Kirstie Johnson headed it in off an assist from Siarafo Abekah, Ruzicka tapped in a goal-box cross from Abekah, and Molly Darragh scored off assists from Van Halm and Kennie Beighle.
“It’s hard, because it does snowball,” said Jackson head coach Jesslyn Kellerman. “Once they score a couple goals, they go up, we go down.”
It is the end of the road for Jackson, and for Kellerman the team’s record, but about players, especially her seniors, who were freshmen in her first year as head coach.
“It’s about more than soccer,” Kellerman said. “It’s about building that community and teaching, giving the girls an example of doing what you love.”