TENINO — As the old cliche tells us, it’s always difficult to defeat a quality team three times in a row. On Saturday the Beavers proved that while that adage is certainly true, securing the vaunted trifecta of victories is by no means impossible.
Tenino and Montesano played 90 minutes of scoreless soccer here on the black turf at Beaver Stadium before the contest was forced into ceremonial extra kicks in order to determine a winner, and a District IV 1A girls soccer champion. Once the Beavers managed to skunk the Bulldogs again, while notching a pair of penalty mark goals for themselves, they wound up with a 1-0 victory and the first district championship in their program’s history.
“I thought this was going to be the toughest game that we’d play. Montesano, you know, you’ve got to give them a lot of credit. They’re a really good team,” Tenino coach Kevin Schultz said. “They’re really well coached. Every time that we played them they had a little bit different game plan. They made adjustments from game to game so we knew it was going to be a battle.”
Goalkeeper Abby Severse was unquestionably the player of the game for the Beavers as she stopped all six shot by Montesano in regulation. She then stopped all four point-blank shots she faced during the penalty shot session, letting loose a ferocious chest thumping roar toward the home crowd with every save.
“I’m super competitive. I hate to lose, especially in my hometown. I hate it. It’s the worst feeling to me. Sometimes I can control it but that was a big moment and I couldn’t. It just came out,” said Severse after posing for a gob of celebratory photos in the aftermath of the breathtaking victory.
She added that she hoped her outbursts were helpful to her teammates as they attempted to steel themselves against the pressure of the moment and seal the victory with their penalty kicks.
“During extra kicks when the team had to line up on half they definitely felt the energy and kept the energy rolling and then the other girls went on to make their kicks,” said Severse.
Schultz was full of praise for his raucous keeper in the aftermath of the tight contest.
“That’s Abby, she’s a Warrior, well, I guess a Beaver. We knew when it got to kicks that we had the better keeper. We just needed to get some shots on frame and score a couple ourselves,” Schultz said. “I’m just so proud of her. There’s a reason why she was voted goalkeeper of the year in our league. She’s just solid back there. She’s a leader from the back.”
Like so many shots on goal, the Beavers’ sophomore goalie was sure to deflect most of the praise that came her way, even if it was well deserved.
“I give credit to my defense because I wouldn’t be such a great goalie without them. They are a wall. I really appreciate them. They do a lot for me,” said Severse. “I was just really focused and in my head I knew, ‘I can do this. I can do this.’ I think my defense definitely controlled (the Montesano offense) and made me more calm and not scared.”
Montesano did have a couple of chances to take a lead during regulation. One of those stood out from the rest for Schultz as he looked back on the contest.
“The scariest moment, I think, was when number seven was wide open on the back post. We kind of lost our mark on her. Our game plan was to make sure we stayed close to her but she got free but her shot went a little wide of the goal. That was probably the biggest bullet dodged,” Schultz noted.
Similarly, the Beavers had a couple of near misses in the first 80 minutes, including a shot from the side by Brieanna Dell that went untouched off of the goalpost before bouncing back out at an impossible angle.
“We had some good opportunities too. Not as many as them probably but Brie hit the post once… I thought it was going in all day,” said Schultz. “She’s done it 42 times this year and I thought that was 43.”
As it was, the Beavers didn’t find the back of the net until their first player stepped up in the extra kick session. Severse got the do-or-die session started with a save before fellow Beaver, Megan Letts, followed up with a goal to give their team a one score advantage. The goalkeepers then traded saves for the next two rounds to keep the contest going. After Severse notched her fourth and final save of the kick-off, Grace Vestal stepped up and put her shot into the back of the net to secure the district title trophy for Tenino.
A dogpile, er, Beaver pile promptly ensued on the turf as the reality of what they’d accomplished sank in.
“We’ve been working on this hard each day, every day. It just shows that hard work pays off. We’re a family so if someone makes it, or in my case saves it, it’s just everyone. Everyone celebrates!” said Severse.
The Beavers will now face South Whidbey in the first round of the 1A state tournament at 6 p.m. on Wednesday in Tenino.