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Posts Tagged ‘playoffs’

Genna Wright is one of the key players who can return for Coupeville High School girls soccer next season. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

The end doesn’t erase the journey.

The season came to a close Monday night for the Coupeville High School girls soccer team, as it fell 6-0 in Bothell to Cedar Park Christian.

With the loss, the Wolves were eliminated from the district playoffs and finish at 3-13-2 on the season.

But, after a campaign in which it was stung by injuries, including losing offensive juggernaut Genna Wright way back in the first half of the first game, CHS can look back on the season with pride.

The Wolves, with or without key starters, were very competitive each time on the pitch, and closed with some of their best efforts of the season.

Coupeville won two of its final three games, nipping Sultan 1-0 in a league tiebreaker, then bouncing Mount Baker 4-0 to capture the program’s first-ever playoff win.

CHS coach Kyle Nelson loses five quality seniors to graduation, with Avalon Renninger, Mallory Kortuem, Anna Dion, Tia Wurzrainer, and Natalie Hollrigel departing.

Renninger tallied 12 goals in her four years in a Wolf uniform, which puts her #5 on the career scoring chart, while Kortuem finishes as the #10 all-time scorer with six goals.

The cupboard isn’t bare, however, with Wright, who punched in 17 goals through her first two seasons, set to return for her senior season.

Other top players who can returning include goaltender Mollie Bailey, midfielders Sophia Martin, Carolyn Lhamon, Knight Arndt, and Audrianna Shaw, and defenders Nezi Keiper, Eryn Wood, and Mary Milnes.

 

2019 goal scorers:

Avalon Renninger – 6
Sophia Martin – 4
Anna Dion – 2
Mallory Kortuem – 2
Eryn Wood – 1
Tia Wurzrainer – 1

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Avalon Renninger scored Saturday as CHS girls soccer won for the first time in the playoffs. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Sophia Martin scored twice in a 4-0 rout of Mount Baker.

Mollie Bailey stands around like a pro.

The Coupeville High School soccer goaltender had relatively little to do Saturday, which is a great thing, indicating her teammates were dominating what would turn out to be a landmark win.

Sparked by a pair of goals from sophomore Sophia Martin, the Wolf booters filled the nets at a pace not previously seen this season, torching visiting Mount Baker 4-0 in a district playoff play-in game.

The victory, which lifts CHS to 3-12-2 on the season, is the first playoff win in program history.

It also propels the Wolves into another loser-out postseason battle, this one coming Monday, when Coupeville travels to Bothell to face Cedar Park Christian, which sits at 8-6 on the season.

Win there, and the pride of Central Whidbey moves into double-elimination territory, needing one win in two games to advance to bi-districts.

To see the district tourney bracket, pop over to:

http://www.nscathletics.com/tournament.php?tournament_id=3117&sport=11

Regardless of how Monday plays out, the Wolves made program history Saturday, and did it twice.

There was the win, yes, but Coupeville had to make a big step before getting there.

They had to score in the playoffs, something no CHS girls soccer team had done.

Over the last decade, the Wolf booters had played eight postseason bouts, three against Vashon Island, three against Meridian, and one each against Lynden Christian and Charles Wright Academy.

Along the way, while frequently forced to play on artificial turf, Coupeville had been outscored 22-0.

Jump forward to Saturday, and the Wolves were free to romp once again on the natural grass which covers Coupeville’s Mickey Clark Field.

They were still missing injured starters Genna Wright and Eryn Wood, but got Natalie Hollrigel and Sophia Martin back in uniform, and that paid dividends.

Moments after dropping a rival player on her rear on the opposite side of the field, ever-elusive Mallory Kourtuem set up a magical moment in time in front of Baker’s goal.

Sucking the defense to her, the CHS senior shielded the ball from her defender, then banged a quick shot into the middle of a mad scrum of players.

It wasn’t just a wild shot, but a pass with a purpose, as Kortuem’s laser landed exactly where she wanted it to be – on Martin’s toe.

Making a bang-bang play, the Wolf sharpshooter punched the ball into the left side of the net, burying the orb into the back of the net before the Mount Baker goalie could move.

Without probably knowing it, the CHS duo had made history, possibly bringing a sigh of sweet relief from their coach, Kyle Nelson, as he paced the sideline.

The Wolf head man had entered the afternoon well aware of Coupeville’s postseason scoring drought, something he was intent on ending.

Whether or not his players knew of their tango with history, they kept up the pressure on the field, thoroughly controlling the flow of the game.

Audrianna Shaw missed (but just barely) on a shot which slid to the left of the net, before Martin banged a shot which tore off a chunk of the cross bar but somehow refused to flop into the net.

She got her revenge a few moments later, however, connecting on her second goal of the day, spinning and chopping the ball over the goalie’s shoulder.

With the celebration in full effect, the Wolves were lights-out the rest of the way.

On offense, Coupeville tacked on a pair of second-half goals, with Anna Dion singing the net with her second score in as many games, before Avalon Renninger blew out the back of the net with a long bomb.

Her team-leading sixth goal of the season, it gives the exuberant Wolf senior 12 scores for her stellar career, which puts her fifth on the CHS girls career scoring list.

Plus it made Grandma and Grandpa Renninger, the most-faithful fans in town, very happy, so there’s that, too.

And Bailey?

She was content to be the loneliest girl in town, fielding just a handful of scattered shots, none of which came close to being halfway-dangerous.

Most of Bailey’s time was spent watching her defenders flex their biceps.

First exhibit: fierce frosh Nezi Keiper parking a Baker girl on her butt after administering a hip check which could be heard all the way up in the press box.

As the Wolf booters celebrated history in the moments after the game’s conclusion, Coupeville volleyball ace Maya Toomey-Stout, a big fan of big hits, wandered by, nodding her head approvingly.

“Hell yeah!!!” she said, and then she smiled.

It was a sentiment shared by one and all in Wolf Nation.

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Audrianna Shaw played big Thursday, as CHS soccer won a 1-0 thriller to earn a home playoff game. (Photos by JohnsPhotos.net)

Anna Dion, seen on Senior Night, scored the night’s only goal.

Home cookin’ paid off nicely.

Coupeville and Sultan played three high school girls soccer games this fall, with the host team coming out on top 1-0 each time.

Good news for Wolf fans? The final two meetings, including one Thursday night in a league tie-breaker, were played on Whidbey Island.

With a playoff berth at stake, CHS senior Anna Dion survived a wild scrum in front of the net in stoppage time, bashing in the night’s only goal in a must-win game.

With the victory, Coupeville, which sits at 2-12-2, earns the North Sound Conference’s fifth, and final, ticket to the postseason.

While Sultan is left to plan its awards banquet, the Wolves host the #4 seed from the Northwest Conference Saturday at Mickey Clark Field.

Kickoff is 1 PM, the game is free of charge to the public, and the opponent will be Mount Baker, which is 0-16 on the season.

The winner of Saturday’s royal rumble advances to play Cedar Park Christian in another loser-out district playoff game Monday in Bothell.

Thursday night’s tilt featured two very evenly-matched teams, especially with the Wolves missing injured starters Genna Wright, Natalie Hollrigel, and Sophia Martin.

Even minus that trio, Coupeville has a better offense than Sultan, but the Turks counter with senior goaltender Amanda McKay, who lets very, very little get past her.

“She is an awesome goalie,” said Coupeville coach Kyle Nelson. “I think she might be the best in the league.”

With the Wolves peppering her with shots, or, in the case of Avalon Renninger, flat-out blowing her up in an inadvertent collision (more on that later), McKay was under constant attack.

You’d never know it, however, as the Turk net-minder played calmly, moved smoothly, anticipated nearly everything, and gave her team a fighting chance.

On the opposite side of the field, Coupeville junior goalie Mollie Bailey didn’t face as many shots, but stood just as tall.

Playing for all the generations of her family which have worn the Wolf colors (spoiler: it’s a lot), the prairie legend dove for balls, deflected shots, and made a superb snag to deny a Turk corner kick which got dangerously close to hitting pay-dirt.

Bailey had help from her defense, anchored by old-school warrior Tia Wurzrainer and new-school sensations Nezi Keiper and Carolyn Lhamon.

Toss in Audrianna Shaw, who spent much of the night knocking Sultan players on their butt, and Coupeville was in full-on lock-down mode.

But while the Wolves kept one half of the scoreboard sitting with a nice big zero on it, all the shooters in the world didn’t seem able to break McKay.

Mallory Kortuem, zipping in and out of traffic, ball on her foot as she out-raced Turk defenders, crashed the net hard, while Renninger rifled high, arcing shots off of her golden left foot.

To which McKay replied, “Denied. Denied. And denied some more.”

Right after making a sensational diving save on a Kortuem shot with four minutes left in the first half, Sultan’s goalie found herself down on the ground and in a bit of a jam.

Renninger, rampaging in front of the net, went up and over McKay, doing a gymnast-worthy flip, only to see her foe vacuum up her potential game-busting goal while prone on the ground.

Popping back up, Coupeville’s effervescent captain stopped long enough to pat Sultan’s goaltender on the back, one classy competitor acknowledging another, then rambled off to create havoc elsewhere.

With the game knotted at 0-0 at the break, the teams, playing less than 24 hours after the regular-season finales, upped the intensity in the second half.

Renninger launched shot after shot, with a free kick from the left side of the field her best opportunity, but McKay wouldn’t break.

And neither would Bailey, one eye on the clock, one eye searching for any photographers who might be snapping her photo.

Casual fans were on the edge of their seats.

Die-hard soccer nuts were under their seats, pleading for a miracle.

And the game seemed destined to head to sudden-death overtime. Possibly even all the way to a penalty-kick shootout.

Neither goalie would crack.

Neither goalie would bend.

Neither goalie would be beaten.

Until it happened, with the clock frozen at 2:00, no one but the lead ref knowing how much time remained in regulation.

Launching a fierce assault on the net, Coupeville sent everyone in uniform (seemingly), while Sultan’s defenders made the kind of final stand made famous by the Spartans once upon a time.

As the scrum erupted, bodies were everywhere, arms swinging, legs pumping, the ball pinging from foot to knee, and then, in the madness, a heroine arose.

Dion, whose brilliant scientific mind will carry her far, has devoted the past four years of her life to the CHS soccer program, a role player willing to sacrifice for others, always the first to celebrate the accomplishments of her teammates.

She’s scored in three of her four seasons, missing out just as a sophomore, but, at a little before 6 PM on a balmy Whidbey Thursday night late in October, 2019, she created the moment which will cement her legacy with Wolf fans.

The ball disappeared into a sea of humanity, McKay lunged, and Anna “The Turk Killer” Dion, fighting just to stay on her feet in the crush, slid her foot under the ball and slapped it past the incoming Sultan goalie.

For one moment, one small, shining slice of time, everything went dead quiet.

And then utter bedlam broke, as Dion’s shot was welcomed by the back of the net, and Anna herself went to the ground, mobbed by a pack of teammates intent on crushing her in their glee.

The stadium shook, the pitch quaked, and, off on the far sideline, Coupeville’s coach, the coolest cat in Cow Town, nodded ever so slightly and smiled, but just a bit.

Ever the strategist, Nelson knew there were still a few ticks left on the clock, a small shard of time for the Wolf defense to withstand a final Turk assault.

If he worried, he need not have bothered, as his hyped-up squad retained control of the ball after Dion’s score, refusing to give Sultan a chance.

Instead, the Wolves rattled off two more shots on goal of their own before the final whistle blared.

Neither went in, but it mattered not.

Anna Dion had already conquered the world, and taken her team along for the wild ride.

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Camden Glover was superb on the mound Friday for Central Whidbey Little League, whiffing 11 batters in a one-run game. (Photo courtesy Stevie Glover)

Not the end, the beginning. (Carron Chernobieff photo)

The season ended, not with a whimper, but with a mighty roar.

The Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball team may have come out on the short end of a 3-2 thriller Friday with arch-rival South Whidbey, but the Wolves walked off the field at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park having fully earned the respect of everyone in attendance.

Playing its fourth contest in five days, and a third-straight elimination game, Central Whidbey came dangerously close to upending its highly-touted foes and advancing to the title game of the District 11 All-Star tournament.

The loss left the Wolves with a 12-8 record on the season, including a 2-2 mark this week as they captured 3rd place in a six-team tourney.

South Whidbey, 3-1 in tournament play, advances to face Burlington (3-0) and its 6-foot-3 pitching ace Saturday afternoon.

The future Falcons have to win twice against the off-Islanders to claim the double-elimination tourney title and a trip to state.

While Central Whidbey won’t be going to the big dance this season, the only team in the tourney to have drawn its players from just one regular-season team fought like the dickens.

And Friday’s finale, while bittersweet, was huge, as the Wolves pulled a 180-degree turn from how they played when they lost to South Whidbey in Monday’s tourney opener.

That game was 6-0, but it felt more like 200-0, as the first 11 Central Whidbey hitters struck out and the team could do little offensively.

Friday night was a different tale, and it started with CWLL coach Jon Roberts winning the coin flip and snatching home field advantage for his squad.

Charging out of a different dugout then on Monday, the Wolves responded much like the squad which KO’d Sedro-Woolley and Anacortes in back-to-back elimination games Wednesday and Thursday night.

Camden Glover strode to the mound as Central’s starting pitcher, and he was as good as any hurler has been in this tourney.

After carefully parceling out innings between their pitchers in previous games, the Wolf coaching staff was able to sit back and watch one blossom into a full-on ace on this sunny, slightly windy evening.

Glover dominated, whiffing the side in the top of the first and eventually finishing with 11 K’s in just under five innings of work.

He had a one-hit shutout through four innings, and gave his team a fighting chance against a very-solid South Whidbey lineup.

The few times Glover let the ball get into play in the early going, his defense was there to immediately clamp down on any and everything.

First-baseman Landon Roberts made a nice scoop and dash to the bag on one unassisted play, then stretched out to pull in a throw coming in hot from shortstop Chase Anderson on a hard-hit grounder.

But, as good as Glover was, he was matched by South Whidbey’s main man on the mound, Kasen Parsell.

The precise and powerful rival hurler escaped danger twice, got nicked once, then got progressively stronger as the game played out.

Central Whidbey got on the base-paths much quicker this time around, with lead-off hitter Jack Porter slashing a shot to the side of the shortstop, then bolting to first to beat the incoming throw.

One out later, Anderson zinged a base-knock to center, followed by a passed ball which put Wolves at second and third with just one out.

It wasn’t to be, however, as Parsell bore down and rang up back-to-back strikeouts, then turned around and dodged another bullet in the bottom of the second.

That time, the Wolves used a single from John Rachal and a walk to Jordan Bradford to once again put two runners aboard, only to see it come to naught.

Rachal’s thunderous hit could have been extra bases, should have been extra bases, but the South Whidbey shortstop made a superb dive to snare the ball.

While he couldn’t get back to his feet in time to nail Rachal, who was churning down the line like mad, it did limit the Wolf slugger to just one base.

Central’s second attempt at a rally died a premature death when Parsell blew the ball past a Central slugger for an inning-ending out, but the feeling in the air was different than it had been on Monday.

And it paid off in the bottom of the third, an inning in which the Wolves didn’t get a hit, but still scored both of their runs.

Aiden O’Neill opened the frame by taking a wayward pitch off his body, earning hoots and hollers of appreciation from the Central Whidbey Little League softball players in attendance.

A booted ball on a hard skipper off Anderson’s bat put two runners aboard for the third straight time, while an error on a liner by Johnny Porter finally brought the game’s first score around.

Looking for an insurance run, Glover dropped the prettiest sacrifice bunt imaginable.

The ball plopping off his bat, it crawled down the first-base line, staying well fair, as Anderson came streaking across the plate before a single South Whidbey fielder could get close to the wobbling orb.

The game remained 2-0 until the top of the fifth, Glover and Parsell going mano a mano, bobbing and weaving, fastballs blazing into their respective catcher’s mitt time and again.

But South Whidbey is a very good team, one with a roster filled with state tournament veterans, and they did what good teams do – found a way to win.

A single and a hit batter put two aboard in the fifth, while Glover’s 11th strikeout and a strong catch in center by Jack Porter slapped two outs on the scoreboard.

With the game hanging in the balance, and parents on both sides hyperventilating, South Whidbey’s #3 and #4 hitters, Parsell and Grady Davis, came through in the clutch.

Back-to-back doubles, with the second one plating the tying and go-ahead runs, were a crippler for Central Whidbey, and justifiable cause for an explosion of cheering from the visitor’s bench.

The Wolves swapped out Glover for closer Chase “The Magic Man” Anderson at that point, and he ended the inning on a strikeout.

But not before South Whidbey’s coach made a classy gesture, walking towards Glover as he headed out to replace Anderson at shortstop, leaning in and telling the tired Wolf pitcher, “You pitched a great game. A great game.”

While Parsell deserved the win, retiring the final nine Wolves he faced in order, Glover’s performance, coming in a pressure-packed game on the biggest stage he’s been on, should not be forgotten.

His season, and the ones put together by teammates Marcelo Gebhard, Jack Porter, Bradford, Alex Smith, Jacob Schooley, Rachal, Johnny Porter, O’Neill, Anderson, and Roberts, were marked by wins and big plays.

But also by resilience, hard work and a willingness to sacrifice for each other and the good of the team.

It was a season to remember, and a finale which offers much promise for the future of Coupeville baseball.

Friday’s bout, simply put, was everything you hope to see in an elimination game.

One side walks away a bit happier, yes, but, on the first night of the tourney where there was just one game being played, both teams rose to the moment.

As they go forward, barring family moves, or athletes choosing soccer in the spring (boo! hiss! and boo again!), many of these players should face off time and again on the diamond as they age from eager little league players to grizzled high school veterans.

Whether they were a “winner” or a “loser” Friday night, may they never forget this game.

A night when both teams, and every player, fought with everything they had and exited having shown respect for themselves, their opponents, and the game itself.

Win or lose, this wasn’t an end for anyone. It’s just the beginning.

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With another win Thursday, Central Whidbey is still alive at the district tourney. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

Call them the eliminators.

Bouncing back nicely after opening the District 11 tourney with a loss, the Central Whidbey Little League Majors baseball squad is now handing out KO’s on a regular basis.

Thursday night it required a late rally by the Wolves, but they escaped with a 6-4 victory over Anacortes, eliminating the boys in purple.

Coming on the heels of a win Wednesday which sent Sedro-Woolley home, Central Whidbey has knocked out two of the three teams no longer playing.

Now, to keep the streak alive, the Wolves will need to find an answer for South Whidbey, the team which beat them 6-0 back in that Monday opener.

The rematch goes down 6 PM Friday at Oak Harbor’s Windjammer Park, and the stakes are high.

With both Whidbey teams sitting at 2-1 in the double-elimination royal rumble, the loser Friday is done, joining Sedro, Anacortes, and North Whidbey on the sideline.

Win the all-Island showdown, however, and you get to advance to play another day, facing Burlington (3-0 in the tourney) Saturday, and maybe Sunday.

While guaranteed a top-three finish, the plucky Wolves, now 12-7 on the season, still have their eyes set on the big prize — the district title and a trip to the state tournament.

To get there, they’ll need to show the same kind of grit they did against Anacortes.

Down 4-3, four outs away from seeing its season end, Central Whidbey rallied for three two-out runs in the bottom of the fifth against a tiring rival hurler.

While the Wolves mixed and matched, using five different pitchers in a bid to keep pitch counts low and save as many arms as possible, Anacortes went with the same ace all the way to his limit of 85 pitches.

And he almost made it, until Central Whidbey pulled off a bit of magic.

With Jack Porter on the base-paths and two outs in the fifth, the Wolves got daring, then lucky, as the lanky outfielder stole second, then scampered to third on a wild pitch.

A walk to Aiden O’Neill, whose pitching performance saved Central earlier in the game, put two runners aboard, and then it was time for the magic man to do what he does so well.

We’re speaking of Chase Anderson, a young man who has already mastered almost every position on the field, while charging through life with a near-constant grin on his face.

That grin blossomed into a mammoth smile after he poked a ball back through the infield, rolling it just wide of the pitcher, yet also too far away for the hard-charging second-baseman to be able to make a play.

Anderson hit the bag at first, Porter slashed across home plate with the tying run, and a group of Central Whidbey softball players, back from their own trip to the state tournament, went bonkers down the third-base line.

Or at least partially bonkers, as the big explosion came a moment later, as Johnny Porter followed Anderson to the plate and promptly lofted a game-deciding two-run single to right field.

In a small slice of time, a game on the line, a contest where the Wolves destiny hung in the balance, became a completely new ballgame.

Over in the stands, legendary former CHS athletes Ema Smith and Lindsey Roberts nodded slightly, gave small fist pumps and looked at each other, the unspoken thought being shared a simple one.

“Just the way we would have done it.”

From that moment, Anacortes was done, baby, done. All that was left was merely a formality.

On the hill headed into the top of the sixth, now with a two-run lead, was Anderson, the team’s fire-baller who had shut down the rivals in the fifth.

With faint strains of Enter Sandman possibly wafting on the wind, the Wolf hurler whiffed the first batter, then got a great defensive play from two teammates for out number two.

Marcelo Gebhard went to his knees to knock down a chopper, plucked the ball out of the dirt, and pegged a throw to first-baseman Landon Roberts, who went all Stretch Armstrong to snare the orb and beat the runner by half a step.

“I think he just ripped every single muscle in his body,” murmured mom Sherry Roberts.

“Exactly the way I taught him,” interjected grandpa Rick Bonacci from behind his daughter.

Perhaps as a reward, perhaps as a way to keep pitch counts down, perhaps just as a way to make sure all of Landon’s body parts were still in working order, CWLL coach Jon Roberts handed the ball to his son to get the 18th and final out.

Done deal, as Landon got the first hitter he faced to slap a soft liner right back into his mitt. Squeeze the ball, do a little hop, and on to Friday.

Before everyone got to the Wolf-friendly finale, the game had been a smartly-played back-and-forth affair.

Jordan Bradford got the nod as Central Whidbey’s starting pitcher, and he was on fire in the top of the first.

Charging back from a 3-0 count, he whiffed the lead-off hitter, then snagged back-to-back come-backers to the mound.

Feeling the electricity in the air, the Wolves plated two runs in the first, thanks to a booming single from Jack Porter, a perfectly-placed bunt single from O’Neill, and a long sac fly off of Anderson’s bat.

And then the offense hit a slow-down for a bit, as the next eight Wolf hitters went down without anyone getting on base.

That dry period, from midway through the first until the end of the third, gave Anacortes a chance to regain the lead, and it did, pushing across two runs in both the second and third innings.

Central Whidbey kept things from getting too out of hand thanks to a great backpedaling catch by Roberts, who snagged a runaway ball as it drifted over first, then did his version of a somersault while still somehow holding on to the ball.

Also coming up huge was O’Neill, who went to the pitcher’s mound and inherited a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the third and lived to tell about it.

He induced a 6-2-5 double play from the first batter he faced, with Anderson pegging the ball to Johnny Porter at the plate for one out, before the Wolf catcher spun and fired a shot to Camden Glover at third to nail another runner.

Overall, O’Neill racked up two scoreless innings at an extremely crucial time, setting up Anderson and Roberts to deliver the one-two knockout punch at the end.

With Anacortes held at bay, the Wolves cut the lead from 4-2 back to 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth.

Anderson led off with a single which dropped in between the first-baseman and right-fielder, then eventually came around to score on a passed ball.

That set up the sweet finale, and left Jon Roberts with a relieved smile on his face.

“Well, after I looked over the books, I am actually very pleased with many things,” he said. “We found a way to wake up the bats and adjust to a mid-speed pitcher with little control.”

Central Whidbey racked up seven hits and three walks on the night, with Anderson and Jack Porter leading the way with two singles apiece.

O’Neill, Roberts, and Johnny Porter added base-knocks, with Glover, O’Neill, and Bradford earning free passes.

There would have been an eighth hit, but John Rachal was flat-out robbed.

Riding a hot streak at the plate, he belted a shot to deep left his first time at bat, only to see the Anacortes fielder run it down and make a superb catch.

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