Liberty wins first ever girls state soccer title
December 4, 2013
By Christina Corrales-Toy
As time wound down and the Liberty High School girls soccer team secured a 2-1 victory over Kamiakin in the Nov. 23 3A state championship game, two things were certain.
First, the Patriots would capture their first state title in girls soccer; and second, the team, which had sworn off fast food this season, would feast on McDonald’s that night.
“If I was really on it, I would have had Happy Meals delivered,” Liberty coach Tami Nguyen joked.
A trip to Ronald’s was undoubtedly deserved for a group that made school history, riding a wave of momentum that began with the team’s Nov. 13 upset of top-ranked Columbia River.
The 2013 Patriots didn’t even win their own league championship, which went to Bellevue, but they won the only trophy that mattered.
“People always talk about peaking at the right time, and I don’t think you could’ve scripted it any better than this,” Nguyen said.
The sizable contingent of Liberty fans didn’t have a chance to get settled in at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup before the Patriots scored their first goal against Kamiakin.
Just seconds into the game, Liberty sophomore Sydney Abel put the Patriots on the board, netting the ball inside the right post, with an assist from junior Sami Harrell.
“She played me a good ball and I just had to be there to finish it, and our momentum went up right as we got it,” Abel said.
Kamiakin tied it up in the game’s 16th minute, sending the teams into halftime with a 1-1 score.
Abel and Harrell would connect again in the second half, only this time Harrell had the score, while Abel had the assist. The goal was all the Patriots would need to capture the state title.
When the referee blew the whistle, officially ending the game, the Patriots jumped and screamed with excitement, while echoes of the chant “Patriot power” emanated through the stands.
“We didn’t think we were going to win it this year, and we did it,” Harrell said.
The win against Columbia River was a momentous turning point in the Patriots’ season, Nguyen said.
It instilled confidence and a belief that Liberty really could make it to the top, after coming so close the past few years. In 2012, the Patriots placed fourth at state; a year earlier, they finished second.
“It’s unbelievable for the seniors, for our school,” Abel said. “We came back and won it.”
Liberty reached the title game after a close victory against Seattle Prep in the semifinals. That Nov. 22 game went to a shootout.
Ten seniors will graduate from this year’s Liberty squad, a special group that was defined by their close relationships, Nguyen said.
“Their leadership of getting the underclassmen on board and teaching the tradition of our program has been important,” she said. “They’ve really taken those guys under their wing, which really instilled a good team atmosphere for us.”
Hazen wins Seamount League championship
It was a year of milestones for the Hazen girls soccer team.
The Highlanders captured the Seamount League title outright for the first time since 1992, and earned their first victory against Kennedy Catholic since 1999.
“We don’t really talk much about last year’s co-championship, but this one is our real own championship, the first at Hazen girls’ soccer since 1992,” Hazen coach Ken Matthews said in a statement.
The Highlanders continued breaking down long-standing records when they punched their ticket to the state tournament for the first time since 1993.
Hazen made it to state with a 1-0 victory against Prairie on Nov. 9. Scoring and shooting were a rare commodity for both teams, but a penalty kick by senior Gabby Brower at the 30th minute was enough for the win.
Brower, a team captain, is a Newport Hills resident and will continue her soccer career at Western Washington University next year.
The Highlanders’ season came to an end Nov. 13, after a 4-1 opening-round loss to Seattle Prep.
Hazen was in the game with 15 minutes to go after senior Chelsea Delgado scored off Melissa Carney’s assist to cut Seattle Prep’s lead to 2-1. Seattle Prep scored two late goals to put the game out of reach, though.
Hazen will see eight seniors graduate from this year’s team, Matthews said.
“There are no words I can come up with right now to adequately describe what this class has meant to our soccer program,” he said.
The Highlanders dominated the Seamount all-league honors this year. Hazen earned the league’s Sportsmanship Award, while Matthews was honored as Coach of the Year.