Our Friday preview and pick this week comes from the pitch. CHS’ girls’ soccer team looks for a trip to the state semis, but to get there, they have to face a real tough test. A look and our thoughts now

Good Friday morning. No football of course this week, but we have another Friday preview and pick for you today, and it comes from the pitch, and real futbol. Cedarcrest High School’s girls’ soccer team heads south for their WIAA state 2A playoff quarterfinal game against White River.


Both teams come in off first round wins Tuesday night in the state playoffs. Cedarcrest beat R.A. Long 3-1 while White River blanked Selah 3-0. And shutouts, and just overall dominance, have been the story of the season for the veteran Hornet group. The team is unbeaten on the season at 19-0-0, and has only given up seven goals all season.

White River, as noted, is loaded with plenty of experience; their roster has 11 seniors listed, including four of their defenders – Chloe Antasasi, Ariel Saylor, Emma Slyter and Alexis White. CHS’ defense, as you know, is also pretty experienced, with four seniors as well – Kate Hickox, Kylie Thomas, Maia Rezoski and Trinity Campbell. Up front, you know the offense is very deep for the Red Wolves. Three different players scored goals for Cedarcrest in the win Tuesday and a number of girls throughout the season have been explosive pieces up front. Forwards Sarah Hommas and Sophie Paradis, along with midfielders Brooke Benson, Piper Parish and Makena Guenther will look to lead that Red Wolve offense while the Hornet offense looks to be led by forward Alex Hatley and midfielders Shelby Stoeck and Annabelle Hall, all seniors.

It is a tremendous accomplishment for any team to go undefeated on the season, and we congratulate White River’s girls on that accomplishment. However, one of the things that we in the media look at when we try to project how far teams will go in the state playoffs is the quality of their league and the strength of their overall schedule. Sadly, we find both of those aspects for the Hornets to be a bit lacking. The SPSL’s Mountain division is a collection of teams from the SPSL and former Seamount leagues, and those leagues, especially the Seamount side of the ledger, have historically not been very strong leagues.

When you look at the number of blowouts on WR’s schedule – a total of nine games won by 7-0, 8-0, 9-0 or even 10-0 scores – this season, you can see how strong perhaps their team is against what frankly in our view is a very weak league. They outscored second-place Fife 8-3 in their two games and third-place Lindbergh, from Renton, 9-2, in their pair. White River’s lone nonconference game was also a win, against a very good 4A Enumclaw team that won their division in the North Puget Sound League this season, but that proved to be their closest margin of victory – 3-2. So we expect Cedarcrest should give them a real tough battle tonight.

The keys to victory for both teams, then, will be two-fold.

-Ball control/ball possession: In the Red Wolves’ game report from coach Alex Hickox on Facebook from Tuesday, he mentioned this was a fundamental focus of CHS in their win over Long. As noted in that report: “The match started and the Red Wolves came out very strong – passing and possessing for the majority of the half. The biggest key was their first touch on the ball – a focus area from training and the pre-game team talk. It showed and the Red Wolves showed their quality. There were several opportunities but CHS was more patient on delivering shots on goal – instead, picking and choosing the right times, throughout the match. It proved to be one of our more efficient goals to shots ratio’s this season. Pushing players forward and staying well organized defensively were on display.” This continued in the second half after the visitors from down south tied the game to open the final 40 minutes at 1-1, before Cedarcrest scored two more goals to put the match away.

White River, because of their dominance all season, also has probably been controlling and possessing the ball more in games, outdueling their opponents in that department. The team that is able to control possession more – we’d say a ratio of 60/40 minimum – likely has the offensive depth to pull off the win.

-The first 20 minutes: Because of what we just noted above, the first 20 minutes may decide this. Whichever team is able to score first will probably make immediate adjustments to more focus on defense and ball control the remainder of the game to prevent the opponent from establishing their offense. So if that’s White River, the Red Wolves will have to respond in kind and attack a little more aggressively to compensate. We think CHS is capable of this and will still be very competitive if they end up trailing at all in tonight’s game.

With all that we’ve mentioned here, we find both teams to be very much carbon copies of one another. But we also think that the Red Wolves’ schedule, especially its non-conference portion of it, prepared them a bit better for this test tonight. Will that be the deciding factor? Likely not. Instead, it comes down to the bread and butter. Ball control and defense, and which team can break through first. It would not surprise us if this thing came down to PK’s tonight, and you know what we think about that.

If soccer had an overtime format similar to hockey’s Stanley Cup playoffs, where the teams play extra sessions until someone scored a goal to win, we’d find that to be a better way to end these games. And frankly, this is a matchup that, if such a format existed, could easily go two, three, four extra sessions, long into the night. That’s how closely-matched we think these two teams are in this one. For the schedule strength being stronger, we’re taking CHS, but you White River ladies should know that it wouldn’t surprise us if you guys pulled it out, either. Whatever happens, we think the winner of this thing is going to end up most likely competing for a 2A state championship next weekend.


Travel information
Cedarcrest fans headed down to tonight’s game, here’s some information for you on how to get there and other tidbits:

Directions: From Duvall or Carnation, there’s a million different ways to get down there to Buckley, but the easiest way is the one we’ll be doing here. You’ll want to make your way over to 405 in Bellevue and head south to Renton. Take the SR 167 exit (#2) and head south to the Sumner area. Just before 167 meets SR 512, it meets SR 410. Take the SR 410 exit heading east towards Bonney Lake. Go east on 410 all the way out to Buckley. Just before you reach downtown, you’ll reach the intersection of Mundy Loss Road. Here, take a right and head south. Go to 120th Street East. At the corner there is an elementary school and the school district’s offices. Turn right here and head west. The road dead-ends at the driveway to the high school. Follow straight through and parking will be at the end of the driveway. The stadium is out behind the school so there will be a bit of a walk. Admission will be the same as it was on Tuesday, $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors.

Another routing that might be utilized by a lot of you will be to use SR 169 south from Maple Valley (SR 18) or 405. So for this routing, you’ll be coming in from the east. Take 410 from Enumclaw, past downtown Buckley and the road will veer right going west. When you reach Mundy Loss, turn left and follow the remaining above directions. In any event, considering most of the travel will be taking place during rush hour, allow yourself at least a couple of hours to get down there, and if you head down 167 and have a Good To Go pass, be prepared to use it to use that HOV lane to save yourself some time.

Food/Gas: There’s a few spots for both in Buckley, but most food/gas options will either be in Enumclaw or Bonney Lake. Among the dining options along 410 coming in from the west in Bonney Lake include a Sonic Drive-In, a Pizza Hut, a Denny’s, a Taco Bell, Applebee’s, Red Robin and a family restaurant known as Hop Jack’s which serves burgers, sandwiches, fish and chips and the like. Hop Jack’s is a local chain which has a restaurant up on the Sammamish Plateau at the east entrance to Klahanie off the Issaquah-Fall City Road.

Rhett Workman

About Rhett Workman

Rhett Workman is the editor of the Snoqualmie Valley Sports Journal. Workman is a veteran sports journalist, having covered Snoqualmie Valley sports for nearly a decade with the Snoqualmie Valley Record newspaper before starting up the SVSJ. Workman's coverage has earned the support and respect of Valley coaches, players, parents and fans, and the SVSJ continues the standard of coverage that Workman brought to the Valley Record.
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