LEAVENWORTH – No one on Tonasket’s girls soccer team had ever played in a district playoff game.
That didn’t keep the Tigers from giving heavily-favored Cascade all the Kodiaks could handle on Tuesday, Nov. 1, before bowing out with a 2-0 loss.
“It’s been four years since Tonasket made the playoffs,” said Tigers coach Darren Collins. “So this was new for everyone.”
The good news for the Tigers is that only four will be lost to graduation. The bad news: Cayla Monroe, Michelle Timmerman, Ashley Booker and Shelby Scott were all key contributors as the Tigers easily snapped up the fifth and final playoff spot out of the Caribou Trail League and had a chance to finish as high as third heading into the final two games of the year.
One thing Collins had hoped to avoid was a first round matchup with Cascade, which for the past couple seasons has been the only real challenger to powerful Cashmere. The Tigers had been outscored a combined 23-0 in their last four meetings with Cascade.
But a matchup with the Kodiaks was what the Tigers got, and despite giving up an early goal Collins described as unlucky, they made the best of it.
“We’ve been trying to get to where we can compete with the better teams in the league,” Collins said. “I think this past week we showed (against Cashmere on Saturday and against Cascade) that we’re getting there.”
Most of Tuesday’s game was played between the boxes, with legitimate scoring chances coming at a premium. Cascade outshot the Tigers 7-4, adding their second goal in the 25th minute of the second half when Ariel Rayfield rifled a shot from the top of the penalty box just inside the right post.
The Tigers’ best scoring chances came late, once on a cross from Kelly Cruz to the far post that was inches too high for a teammate to head in. In the final minute, Kylie Dellinger beat everyone but Cascade keeper Annika Enloe, who dove on Dellinger’s shot from point blank range to preserve the shutout.
Bayle Tyus initiated several Tonasket buildups with her play at midfield, picking up a number of steals and disrupting the Kodiaks with effective tackling.
“We kept the game at midfield for the most part,” Collins said. “We just couldn’t get a lot going on the offensive end. Their defense is solid.”
The Tigers tried to get Cruz open for scoring chances, but the Kodiaks often kept her marked with two defenders that denied her the ball or forced her into a corner when she did receive a pass.
Monroe made five saves as the Tigers wrapped up their season with a 6-9-1 mark.
Cascade (14-4) went on to lose a 2-0 winner-to-state, loser-out contest at Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) on Saturday, Nov. 5.