It was back in late September when Sequim’s Wolves, seeing their league record fall to 0-6 after a one-goal loss to Kingston, found another gear.
“That was pretty gut-wrenching for them,” SHS coach Derek Vander Velde said.
Just five weeks later, the Wolves are headed to their first state tournament.
Sequim’s girls soccer squad completed a monumental turnaround Saturday, Nov. 3, knocking off league rival North Kitsap 1-0 in Silverdale to earn the program’s first state berth, and its first West Central District title.
See more photos from the game here.
“Our offense kind of took a while to put it together,” said Sequim keeper Olivia Hare, who shut down the Vikings for her fifth shutout of the season.
The Wolves, who had the Olympic League’s fourth and final seed to districts, now own a seven-game winning streak and will take on Ellensburg (13-4-0) in the first round of the state tournament in Silverdale on Nov. 7.
“(We gained) confidence in each other, learning how to work together,” Hare said of her team’s turnaround. “We really picked up the intensity.”
It showed in a district tourney that saw Sequim rout Highline in the opening round, survive a double-overtime match with White River, and in the district final edge what’s become the team’s key league rival in North Kitsap.
Sequim junior Hope Glasser, who scored Saturday’s lone goal, said the Wolves were hoping to play North Kitsap once again after falling to the Vikings on a last-second goal on Sept. 18. (Sequim also knocked off North Kitsap 1-0 at home on Oct. 11).
On Saturday, Sequim had the winning formula in Hare and Glasser, who combined to score the district title-clinching goal. About 20 minutes into a rain-soaked first half, Hare launched a free kick toward the Viking goal that Glasser knocked past the Viking keeper.
“(Assistant coach) Antonio (Frutos) gave me a pep talk and said ‘Go for any loose ball,’” Glasser said. The advice paid off.
Sequim was able to hang on for the remaining 60 minutes, with Hare making a number of stops on a persistent Viking attack led by Kamora McMillan and Charlotte Bond.
Sequim controlled much of the first half, with Yana Hoesel nearly putting Sequim up by two scores with a free kick about 10 minutes before the halftime break.
After getting stymied for much of the first 40 minutes, North Kitsap looked to get a clean shot on goal with about two minutes to play deep in the Wolves’ territory, but Sequim’s Natalya James had a key takeaway to preserve the slim lead.
North Kitsap dominated much of the play in the second half as the Vikings searched for a score but came up just short on a number of chances, including a Mia St. Peter shot on goal at 50 minutes, a Bond drive deep into Sequim territory at 58 and 59 minutes and a header by Chloe Hoepfinger at 60 minutes.
Daisy Ryan, Sequim’s overtime hero against White River just days prior, nearly put the game away with 10 minutes left with a shot on goal following a Viking turnover, but it rolled wide left.
North Kitsap had another big push in the final six minutes but Hare made a diving stop off a Viking corner kick, and NK’s McMillian saw her best shot deflected away by Sequim defenders.
The Wolves rushed the field following the final whistle to celebrate their top district finish, putting their six-game league losing streak in the rear-view mirror.
“We started talking about the positives,” Vander Velde said, referring to his team’s mid-season reset.
Talk positive and think positive were the themes, he said.
“They believe it, they buy into that,” Vander Velde said. “That has been our success. That mental piece gave them the edge.”
Vander Velde credited assistants Antonia Frutos, Erin Vig and Keith McMinn for their work in helping the Wolves earn state tourney berth.
“It’s incredible to be part of this. I’m amazed by them,” Vander Velde said.
Wolves edge Hornets
Despite a 1-0 deficit at halftime, Sequim clinched its first state tournament berth with a 2-1, double-overtime victory against White River in the West Central District tournament’s opening round on Oct. 30.
“It was emotional,” Vander Velde said. “The girls played really well. White River got a goal in the first half, a simple mistake, a bad decision on our part, but the girls were able to fight back.”
The Wolves were able to knot the score at 1-1 in the 65th minute when Hannah Wagner was fouled and earned a free kick.
“The girls came out even more on fire to get one back,” Vander Velde said.
Yana Hoesel took the free kick, a left-to-right shot to the far corner that left no doubt.
“Yana’s free kick was pretty spectacular,” Vander Velde said. “For a senior, a captain, to step up under that amount of pressure, that’s leadership right there. She was so calm and composed when she kicked it.”
Sequim scored the game winner in the final minute of the second 5-minute golden-goal overtime. Ryan put a shot off the White River goalie that came back and the junior forward netted the ball from about six yards out with an easy touch, Vander Velde said.
“That was insane — one of the best teams we’ve come up against,” Glasser said. “Daisy, she’s come up clutch for us.”
Vander Velde said defenders Gabby Happe and Mary McAleer did a great job on the back line, Jessica Dietzman played a great second half and Natalya James worked hard to regain possession from White River players.
“They had quite a few shots on but they didn’t test our keeper (Hare),” Vander Velde said.
Reach Michael Dashiell at email@example.com.