The Wolves’ run into the 2022 postseason is over following a 3-1 loss to eighth-seeded Lindbergh in Renton on Nov. 2.
The ninth-seeded Wolves (9-7) couldn’t dig out of a two-goal halftime deficit.
“We made a couple of mistakes here and there and teams at this level will make you pay,” Sequim coach Ken Garling said.
Sequim wanted to hold to the formula that produced a 2-0 win over Clover Park to open the postseason the evening prior.
“First 10 minutes we stuck to our game-plan which was … to pressure them up high and try and get a score quickly,” Garling said.
“We were able to get a turnover, a shot on goal, followed up with a second shot that almost went in, but Lindbergh did a good job of counterattacking off of that and got a goal in the first three or four minutes.”
Garling said the Wolves started to keep better possession of the ball after the score, but yielded a corner kick in the 28th minute.
“We missed a clearance on the corner and the ball ricocheted off of one of our defenders’ feet and into the goal, so we were down 2-0 at halftime,” he said.
Lindbergh wasn’t making things easy for Sequim to get back into the game, sending four or five defenders behind the ball to slow Sequim striker Taryn Johnson.
The Eagles took to the air in the 54th minute to go up 3-0.
“They sent in a long-distance, high arching, looping shot that went in,” Garling said. “One of those kicks that’s so well-placed that there’s just nothing much to do with it [defensively].”
The Wolves snapped the shutout around the 60th minute.
“At some point you have to answer, and we did on a really good ball in from Jenny Gomez,” Garling said.
“She countered, took a couple of nice dribbles up the field and slotted the ball to the left side of the goalkeeper and Taryn found the net.”
Sequim switched into a three-striker formation to chase down more goals.
“You started to see the momentum shift a bit; we were pressuring well and taking good chances, but we just couldn’t score,” Garling said.
Sequim will likely return the core of this season’s squad, including Johnson, the all-time leading goal scorer in school history, plus Gomez, Kaia Lestage and many others.
“The majority of the group will be back and I definitely think we will make some noise next season in the Olympic League,” Garling said.
A win would have sent the Wolves into a consolation semifinal against rival Port Angeles.
Wolves top Clover Park
Garling said he wanted to see the Wolves get a lead early and put pressure on Clover Park in the opening game of the West Central District 2A girls soccer tourney on Nov. 1.
A booming left-footed shot from Alex Salas did just that.
The senior defender found the net from 30 yards out just five minutes into the game, and Johnson, SHS’s junior scoring ace, added an insurance goal midway through the second half to help the ninth-seeded Wolves fend off elimination and advance in the district tourney.
“The game plan was, the first ten minutes … to see if we can press them, get a quick score [and] set the tone early, so we can get off and running from there,” Garling said. “And they did everything we asked them to do.
“It was nice to see Alex get that nice goal, off of pressure. They turned it over in a dangerous area and Alex made them pay.”
Battling Clover Park in bracing, 40-degree weather at Peninsula College’s Sigmar Field, the Wolves controlled the ball for most of the first half.
“If you possess the ball, the chances of the other team scoring is pretty much nil,” Garling said. “We knocked the ball around, made them chase us, wear them down — it was all part of our game plan.”
He lauded the efforts of Gomez, Teagen Moore and Ivy Barrett for dominating possession in the opening frame.
The 16th-seeded Timberwolves, however, kept the Wolves at bay after the early score, giving up only a couple of good looks to Johnson at the 35- and 36-minute mark, including a free kick that sailed just high.
In the second half, Clover Park made some adjustments.
“Credit to them; they did a good job being a little more organized on the attack,” Garling said of Clover Park. “They started getting some numbers forward. We just had to adjust our defensive line. We felt we were quicker than them, so we didn’t need to beat them in an outright footrace.”
Still, the Timberwolves weren’t able to put significant pressure on SHS keeper Kalli Grove and the Wolves’ defense, spearheaded by Lestage.
“[She’s] just absolutely money,” Garling said of the junior defender. “She’s doing all the right things … [and] is a great communicator out there. Super proud of her.”
Lestage nearly doubled the Wolves’ lead at 52 minutes on a long-range free kick that Clover Park keeper Estrella Sanchez saved over the net.
Sequim’s Moore had another near-score at 58 minutes, and a minute later, Gomez made a deep run and found Johnson, who broke through the Timberwolves’ defense to notch her 24th goal of the season and put Sequim up 2-0.