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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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