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Posts Tagged ‘tiebreaker game’

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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Sean Toomey-Stout, seen in an earlier game, scored a game-high 14 Saturday, but Coupeville fell short of qualifying for the playoffs. (Photo by JohnsPhotos.net)

They went down, but not without a fight.

The season ended abruptly Saturday for the Coupeville High School boys basketball team, but a squad which can return 11 of 12 varsity players, including its top nine scorers, seems to be on the cusp of something big.

The Wolves wanted to make the playoffs, but it wasn’t to be, after back-to-back losses to Granite Falls, coming in two different towns over a 20-hour period, eliminated CHS a win shy of the postseason.

After falling on the road Friday in the regular season finale, Coupeville returned home Saturday, only to come up short again versus the Tigers, losing 52-38.

The loss, coming in a tiebreaker game to decide the fifth, and final, playoff berth from the North Sound Conference, leaves the Wolves final record at 2-16.

Which is a bit deceptive.

After graduating every starter, Coupeville had six players make their varsity debut this year, with freshman Hawthorne Wolfe emerging as the team’s leading scorer.

While the Wolves racked up a string of losses, they were competitive virtually every time on the floor, and were a team which often played hardest when trailing.

CHS coach Brad Sherman preached not giving in, not giving up, continuing to fight regardless of the odds, and his players listened.

And that showed Saturday, as a rough opening could have sucked the life out of the Wolves. Instead, they delivered maybe their most-stirring comeback of the season.

Perhaps Coupeville’s players were a bit road-weary after getting home in the early hours of Saturday morning, then returning to the gym to coach youth basketball teams, all before pulling on their own uniforms again for a 5 PM start.

Or, maybe there was a breeze in the CHS gym, blowing the ball off its intended path.

Whatever the answer, Coupeville couldn’t buy a bucket for much of the first half Saturday, falling behind 9-0. Eventually, the deficit billowed all the way out to 23-4 with under a minute to go until halftime.

A Jered Brown jumper in the first quarter and a Sean Toomey-Stout rumble to the hoop for a second-quarter bucket were all the Wolves could get to drop, and things looked bleak.

CHS finally found a spark, though, right at the end of the second quarter, with Mason Grove burying a three-ball from the right side, followed by Toomey-Stout snatching a deflected rebound and scooting up the floor for a quick pull-up shot right before the buzzer.

The 5-0 mini-surge, and whatever Vince Lombardi-style speech Sherman delivered in the locker room, seemed to do the trick, as the Wolves looked like a vastly different team in the second half.

Coupeville busted out a 15-5 tear across the eight-minute third quarter, cutting the lead all the way back to 28-24, and Granite seemed genuinely shaken.

Multiple Tiger players spent more time complaining to the refs than playing defense and the Wolves took advantage, reeling off one bucket after another.

CHS big man Ulrik Wells opened the run with a soft lil’ jumper under pressure, Toomey-Stout closed the surge by drilling the bottom out of the net with another pull-up, and, in between, Wolfe and Jered Brown both nailed crowd-pleading three-balls from great distance.

And the Wolves didn’t stop there, as Toomey-Stout, who spent the game out-leaping, out-sprinting and out-muscling everyone in sight, took the ball coast to coast for a layup to open the fourth quarter.

A student section which had grown in size as the game developed was on its feet, the collar on the Granite coach’s shirt was getting way too tight, and all the momentum had shifted.

But then things went South.

Kellen Webb, who had been little more than a role player in the first two games the teams played, suddenly decided to become Kobe Bryant reincarnated.

Going off for all 12 of his team-high points in the fourth, the Granite sophomore scorched Coupeville for a three-ball to push the lead back to five, then capped an ensuing 11-0 Tiger run with a second trey.

After fighting so hard to get back from 19 down, Coupeville found a two-point deficit shoved back out to 13 in the seeming blink of an eye, and it was staggering.

But not a total killer.

The Wolves, refusing to believe their season was ending, actually mounted a second rally, cutting the lead back to 42-36 when Toomey-Stout rippled the net on a three-ball from the top of the arc.

That capped a 10-3 run in which post player Jacobi Pilgrim dropped a pair of free throws, then yanked down a rebound and shot up the right side for his own coast-to-coast bucket, eliciting squeals from his coaches.

Toomey-Stout, who has a heart the size of a large galaxy, and played like it Saturday, opened the second rally with a three-point play the hard way.

Not content to just pull down an offensive rebound, he did so with great style, fighting off three Tigers, then spinning like a ballet god in the paint, before flipping the ball up and off the glass while being slapped hard around the face.

If there was justice, the Wolves would have been rewarded for making not one, but two, epic rallies while facing gut-churning suspense.

But, sometimes, basketball can be a cruel sport.

Coupeville’s shot-making artistry vanished in the game’s final two minutes, and, while the Wolves had solid looks at the basket, the rim was a fickle, unforgiving mistress.

Shot after shot rolled out, popped back up or flat-out refused to go down.

Granite, mainly operating at the free-throw line in the waning moments, closed its win and celebrated a chance to go get stomped by league champ King’s in their district playoff opener.

While he wanted a win, while he needed a win, Sherman, the former CHS star who has reshaped the hoops program in his two years on the job, walked away with his eyes set firmly on the positives.

“We are really, really proud of these guys, of how they showed heart tonight and all season, how they always fought back,” he said.

“We will miss (lone senior) Dane (Lucero) and his leadership and everything he gave us,” Sherman added. “But the other guys left here with their heads high, ready to put in work in the off-season and come back stronger next year. We have a lot to look forward to.”

Toomey-Stout, one of eight juniors on the 12-man CHS roster, closed his first varsity season with a game-high 14 points, while Brown knocked down seven.

Wells (5), Pilgrim (4), Wolfe (3), Grove (3), and Gavin Knoblich (2) rounded out the offensive attack.

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