The ride is over, with the Wolves seeing their postseason journey cut short one win from the state tourney.
The Sequim girls soccer team’s playoff run came to a close on Nov. 6 with a 3-0 loss to Sammamish in a winner-to-state, loser-out match.
SHS coach Ken Garling said he was proud of what the Wolves accomplished this season, finishing third in the Olympic 2A League behind Port Angeles and North Kitsap, winning a playoff game at the bi-district tournament against Orting and coming within one game of qualifying for state.
“I think we surprised some people this year,” Garling said. “I thought when we started in the summer that we had a good core of girls. It impressed me how well they came together.”
In addition to going 11-6 on the season, the Wolves scored more than 50 goals.
The Wolves lose senior Hannah Wagner, one of the team’s leaders and top players, to graduation this June.
“She shows such tremendous effort and leadership,” Garling said.
However, sophomore Taryn Johnson was a big revelation for the Wolves, scoring four hat tricks on the season, including a four-goal hat trick in one game. Sophomore midfielder Jennyfer Gomez will also be back.
“She’s another tremendous worker. She’s such a physical presence,” Garling said of Gomez.
He also said freshmen Ivy Barret and Libby Turella were big contributors this season on the back line and are a big part of the Wolves’ future.
Sequim splits district games
The eighth-seeded Wolves couldn’t find the net or hold back the bi-district tournament’s top-seeded Fife Spartans in a 5-0 loss to open the postseason on Nov. 2
“They were very good, a very solid team,” Garling said of Fife, the No. 4 team in the WIAA Class 2A RPI rankings.
“We just couldn’t get into a rhythm. They did a good job of keeping up high pressure. They were able to disrupt our passing game, and they were beating us to 50/50 balls. They are the No. 1 seed for a reason.”
Garling said his squad had difficulties stopping junior midfielder Kaylee Mithun, who scored four of Fife’s goals on the night.
“She’s a very dynamic player,” Garling said.
“We tried to adjust our formation (after halftime) to get a little more presence up and put Hannah [Wagner] up there with Taryn Johnson, but No. 4 is just tremendous for them. She came back and scored two goals in the second half and had four for the night.”
Sequim rebounded in a must-win game against Orting two nights later, topping the Cardinals 3-1 on the turf at Peninsula College.
“I think we came back really well, we were motivated from that loss to get back in it,” Johnson said.
The Wolves opened the scoring in the 16th minute when Johnson played a ball into Wagner in the goal box and Wagner was fouled, drawing a penalty kick which she deposited in the left side of the net.
Orting counter-attacked for a tying goal by Hannah Sullenger in the 30th minute, but Sequim answered quickly.
After a long dribble up field, Johnson sent a perfectly timed ball over to sophomore Teagen Moore on the right side of the goal box. Moore sent a ripper of a shot past the Cardinal’s goalie for a 2-1 halftime advantage.
The Cardinals seemed reluctant to press the question offensively until they trailed by two goals late in the game. And Kaia Lestage and friends in the back line were up to the task, allowing little to trouble Sequim goalkeeper Addie Smith after halftime.
The Wolves simply worked harder and played smarter than their Orting counterparts.
“We needed to have that no-quit attitude,” Johnson said. “I know Sequim is all about that no-quit.”
Lestage headed away and cleared away a number of Orting attempts in the Sequim back third.
“Kaia Lestage stood out to me,” Johnson said. “Kaia was getting the ball out, distributing the ball well and getting a lot of headers. And Hannah Wagner. I think everybody played really well today.”
“Kaia was amazing,” he said. “She does such a great job commanding that back line. Her strength is just instinctive. She reacts so well to the ball.”
Johnson added the third and final goal in the 66th minute, scoring from a nearly impossible angle along the end line.
“The defender thought the keeper was going to get the ball, so I cut right in front of her and shot it and it bounced off the keeper’s gloves and in,” Johnson said.
Garling was impressed with his players’ ability to maximize their games in a crucial moment.
“We’ve said all year, ‘Ladies, play to our strengths,’” Garling said. “What are our strengths? We have Taryn with speed and finishing, Hannah with distribution, finishing, shooting and Kaia who is so solid defensively. We had a lot of things really go well tonight and I’m happy about it.”