OKANOGAN – If the Tonasket girls soccer team’s season had to end, this was probably the best way to do it.
The Tigers gave Okanogan everything the Bulldogs could handle Tuesday, Oct. 30, withstanding a huge early barrage before playing on even terms for most of the afternoon.
“We played a very good game,” said Tonasket coach Darren Collins. “If we were going to lose, at least it was to a very good team and the girls played tough. A lucky bounce here or there might have changed things.”
Okanogan scored an early goal off a corner kick header that pin-balled its way into the Tonasket goal for the only score of the rainy 1A District 6 play-in contest. Though the Bulldogs had 5-6 legitimate scoring chances in the first 10 minutes of the game, the Tigers ended up evening the playing field the rest of the way, if not the score.
“I don’t know exactly what happened those first 10 minutes,” Collins said. “We did everything we didn’t want to do for a bit there. We wanted to pressure them and get their defense playing backwards a bit, but it seemed like they had a dozen corner kicks there for awhile.
“They only got one in, but unfortunately we couldn’t get it back.”
The Tigers had several scoring chances late in the first half. Kylie Dellinger nearly headed in Alicia Edwards’ corner kick that glanced off Okanogan keeper Cameron Moses and — like the goal the Bulldogs scored — bounced off several players and rolled off Moses’ back out of bounds. Okanogan cleared out the next corner without nearly the dramatics.
“We had some good opportunities,” Collins said. “We had that chance, Selina McBride had that header that went just wide and we had some good chances where we were about an inch from getting a really good shot off.”
Okanogan’s quick-touch, well-controlled passing game kept the Bulldogs building up the offensive pressure on the Tonasket defense, but the Tigers were equal to the task in cutting the ball off and booting it out of bounds before Okanogan could get off many quality shots.
It was a far cry from the two regular-season games between the two which Okanogan won by a combined score of 11-2.
The Tigers finish at 7-10 and finished sixth in the Caribou Trail League. Their biggest win of the season came in late September against Cascade, which ended up costing the Kodiaks the league title.
“We did OK, this year,” Collins said. “We had some great games and some others where we should have been better. We have a lot of girls coming back next year, and we need to work on bringing that same attitude to every game.
“The games at the start of the year count as much as the ones at the end. If you can win some of those early ones it takes a lot of pressure off at the end when you’re fighting for playoff position. Cascade is probably saying that right now, too.”
Collins also said that he appreciated the fan support the team had this year.
“We had a great number of fans this year,” he said. “We always had a lot at our home games, and we had a lot of people at our games in Omak and Okanogan and places like that. It was always nice to have people telling the girls that they had a good time watching their game.”
Okanogan (13-3) travels to Riverside on Saturday for a bi-district winner-to-state, loser-out contest.