Rivals girls’ soccer opener ends in 3-3 tie

Leader News Staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 9/16/22

The kickoff commenced and the East Jefferson Rivals girls soccer team’s season was underway as they faced Annie Wright Schools in Tacoma Friday, ultimately ending with a 3-3 draw.

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Rivals girls’ soccer opener ends in 3-3 tie

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The kickoff commenced and the East Jefferson Rivals girls soccer team’s season was underway as they faced Annie Wright Schools in Tacoma Friday, ultimately ending with a 3-3 draw.

With a solid core of seniors and squad members with competitive club soccer experience, that confidence showed in EJ’s play as they linked up with great passing and defense from the jump.

The Rivals’ first big chance to open up scoring came from a set piece nine minutes into the game.

Junior playmaker Ava Shiflett aimed a short corner to senior Leah Harrison, who sent a low cross for junior Iris Mattern in the penalty box. Mattern laced a precise volley in the far corner to put EJ ahead 1-0.

The Rivals continued the offensive pressure through their stout midfield, cutting through Annie Wright’s defense and getting shots at net. Senior Kaylen Pray, Harrison, and junior Audrey Matthes each booted shots on the Gators’ keeper, but the opponents kept the score at 1-0.

That is, until sophomore Kay Botkin sent a pass over the Gator defenders to leave Shiflett with a one-on-one against the keeper. Beating the keeper and slotting a shot into the empty net, Shiflett brought the score to 2-0 with EJ ahead as the halftime whistle sounded.

The Rivals utilized the counter attack at the start of the half, beginning from their own penalty box. The EJ players pushed the pace toward the net, but a moment’s hesitation allowed the Gators to snuff out the counter attack.

In the 51st minute, the Gators started to find their form.

An Annie Wright free kick from the left side and a momentary lapse in concentration on the Rivals’ end left a loose ball for the opposing striker to pounce on and score from close range. The Gators chomped their way back into the game with the score at 2-1.

Minutes later, Annie Wright earned another free kick, this time from the right. The opponents capitalized on the set piece after the incoming shot skimmed Botkin’s head to ricochet into EJ’s goal. The unlucky own goal reenergized Annie Wright’s squad as they got another free kick 10 minutes later. The well-placed shot was a tad too high for freshman goalkeeper Tayla Davis’ outstretched gloves and the Gators took the late lead over EJ.

Despite outplaying Annie Wright for most of the matchup, the Rivals felt stung by the bad luck and brief lack of concentration, especially after taking the two-goal lead.

The Rivals ramped up the offense in search of the late equalizer. Shiflett broke through for another one-on-one with the Gator keeper, but this time her shot was barely off target. Harrison’s chance at net ended with a metallic ping off the crossbar, and Matthes’ one-timer was saved low by the Annie Wright keeper.

Finally, with one minute remaining, the breakthrough came. Mattern intercepted a Gator goal kick inside her half, pushing the ball infield to Botkin who aimed a long-range pass onto the foot of Matthes.

Quick passing from Matthes opened a gap for Shiflett, who sliced a pass to Pray. With all the weight on her shoulders, the winger advanced into the penalty box and booted a perfect shot right in the corner to tie the game 3-3.

EJ was hungry for the game-winner, but the Gators were saved by the bell as the teams settled on a tie.

The Rivals were disappointed to not earn the win, but took a lot of positives from their play throughout. With the forward lines pushing the pace, midfielders passing with deadly precision, and defense holding steady for most of the matchup, EJ Head Coach Robert Cantley had a lot to be happy about.

EJ’s home opener was scheduled for Tuesday evening versus Vashon Island High School.

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