The Mead girls soccer team is on its way to Camas, Wash. – more than 300 miles from home, but light-years from where the Panthers started a few months ago.
Better yet, they’re 80 minutes from a trip to the final four of the State 4A tournament. A win in Saturday’s 1 p.m. quarterfinal at Camas would do the trick.
“I think it’s been a yearlong process with our team,” said coach Kevin Houston, who took over the girls team this fall after winning another GSL boys title last spring.
With a new coach and a new system, the Panthers struggled early while Houston was “looking at who my players are and the best fit and also seeing what made them tick.”
He learned more following a 2-1 home loss to Central Valley on Oct. 12. The team meeting which followed “helped us to come together as a team,” Houston said.
The Panthers are 6-1 since then, losing a rematch with CV for the District 8 title, but rebounding with a 2-0 win over Gonzaga Prep that put them in regionals. Once there, they took road wins at Pasco (3-0) and Richland (3-2).
Even their first-round state “home” match was on the road, albeit at University High, because of an unplayable field at Mead. They beat Kentridge 3-1 to advance.
Houston credits his captains – Martha Heaps, Kylie Drynan, Maddie Aldrich and Kathryn Imming – with bringing “energy” to the situation.
“They started to believe in each other, that we might have a team that can advance to state,” Houston said.
The Panthers (13-4) have 11 goals in their last four matches, with forward Kara Marbury accounting for two goals and four assists.
“Kara and (forward) Anna Kessler are strong, athletic girls and can put a lot of pressure on defenses,” Houston said.
Houston scouted Camas’ first-round win Wednesday at Moses Lake.
“I feel like we match up very well with them, if we play the way we can play.”
Central Valley vs. Issaquah: Winning may be its own reward, but there’s another benefit.
The Bears are home Saturday in a 4 p.m. 4A quarterfinal match against Issaquah because “we’ve earned it,” said CV coach Andres Monrroy. The Greater Spokane League champs took the district title two weeks ago, earning a home match for the regional final against Richland. That in turn, gave them a home match against Auburn in the first round of state.
The Bears (14-2) won that match 5-2 to put Monrroy within one game of going to the final four for the second time in six months. CV’s boys team qualified last spring.
I’m definitely very proud of what my staff and I have accomplished,” Monrroy said. “The players have committed themselves, and they believe in the system.”
Mt. Spokane vs. Kamiakin: The unbeaten Wildcats (18-0) already own a 2-0 regional win over the Braves, last week on the Mt. Spokane field.
Kamiakin didn’t like the result or the field conditions, and appealed. As a result, Saturday’s 3A quarterfinal will be contested at 1 p.m. at Central Valley.
“The girls are really fired up,” Mt. Spokane coach Ryan Campanella said about a 2-1 first-round win Tuesday over Enumclaw, coupled with losing home-field advantage.
If they win, the Wildcats will play a semifinal match Nov. 16 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
2B/1B boys quarterfinals: Two Spokane schools are within a match of reaching the semifinals, and both are playing near home on Saturday.
In the first match of a doubleheader Saturday at Whitworth, St. George’s (15-2-1) faces Tacoma Baptist at noon.
At 2 p.m., Northwest Christian (12-6) will play Waitsburg-Prescott.
Winners advance to the semifinals, Nov. 16 in Sumner.