The Sequim Wolves had a split record last week, beating Olympic 2-1 on a penalty shootout tiebreaker on Oct. 15 before falling 1-0 to North Kitsap on Oct. 17 in a pair of matches that head coach Derek Vander Velde called “tough, tough games.”
The results leave Sequim sitting in fourth place in the Olympic League with a 5-5 record, one game behind third-place North Mason for the final district playoff slot.
“There’s a lot of importance on these last couple of games,” Vander Velde said the morning after the North Kitsap game.
“But we’re playing well, and the girls are fighting for each other.”
Against Olympic, the Wolves were held relatively quiet in the first half, with the Trojans getting the better of the early chances, though star goalkeeper Olivia Hare was in fine form and not letting anything past her.
Senior forward Daisy Ryan scored off the restart, getting put through the defense with ease before looping a shot up and over Olympic goalkeeper Kaya McGill, the ball sneaking between the Trojan’s outstretched hands and the crossbar to give the Wolves a 1-0 lead.
The goal was Ryan’s third of the season, and her first since an early-season illness kept her out for a couple of games and forced her to spend the last few weeks finding her form again.
“That goal really showed me I’m back to my level,” Ryan said after the game. “It felt really good to score again.”
“That was a big moment for us,” Vander Velde said. “We’d had a tough half, and that gave them the proof that they had what they needed and could play their game.”
That momentum wouldn’t last, however, and about 10 minutes into the half Olympic were starting to get back into the game a little bit more. Senior winger Midori Carrier was causing a constant threat to the Wolves’ backline, facing a patchwork rotation at right back with regular starter Mary McAleer limited by an injury.
The momentum would swing back and forth, with both teams getting several big chances, but it was Olympic junior forward Alexis Valenzuela who leveled the score for the visitors in the 73rd minute, given too much space in the box after a counter-attack before shooting for the far post past a diving Hare.
Sequim would have several big chances to take the lead in the last few minutes of regulation and in extra time, but the match would proceed to their second tie-breaking penalty shootout in a week, and third so far of the season.
Similar to a PK win over Port Angeles one week prior, the Wolves took their penalties confidently and Hare stepped up with huge saves. Alexis Smith, Ryan, Hannah Wagner and Gabby Happe all scored their shots from the penalty shot with ease, and Hare saved the tries from Carrier and Kiarra Richards o give the Wolves a 4-2 win in the shootout and a 2-1 win on the night.
“I honestly felt a little more pressure tonight than I did (against Port Angeles),” Hare said after the game. “There’s that feeling that you have to keep it up. I’m always ready for penalties, but I’m definitely happier to win in regulation.”
A regulation win wasn’t in the cards against North Kitsap, however, with the Wolves falling 1-0 on Oct. 17. Sequim struggled with long balls in the first half and gave up a goal late in the opening period, and, according to Vander Velde, despite playing better in the second half the team couldn’t find a breakthrough goal to even the score.
“We really had the better opportunities in the second half,” Vander Velde said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t score off them.
“We’re just going to move on and really focus on our last two league matches.”
Vander Velde said that for the Wolves’ non-league match against Port Townsend on Oct. 22, he’d be adding a few junior varsity players to his varsity roster and leaning on some of his less-used varsity players to give his core players a bit of a rest before two significant matches to close the league season.
The Oct. 24 match against North Mason will have a huge impact on the final standings, with the match looking like a possible tiebreaker.
Then the Wolves venture over to Kingston on Oct. 29 to round out their season.
If Sequim finishes in the top three in league, they advance to the West Central District tournament at Franklin Pierce High School set for Nov. 2-9.