By Dennis Glade
Washington Times Herald
For 36 minutes the Washington girls’ soccer team did everything right, and then everything changed.
The Hatchets (10-7-1) fell to Castle (12-2-4) 4-0 in the sectional championship game at Castle.
The Hatchets came out with a physical game plan to shut down the Knights strong offense. For much of the first half that strategy worked as the Hatchets used their physical defensive approach to stymie the Castle offense.
In the 36th minute, junior midfielder Maddie Salzman found junior forward Hayley Shelton as she raced ahead of the Hatchet defense. Shelton beat goalie Ally Hunsinger in the back right corner of the goal to give the Knights a 1-0 lead going into halftime.
“We felt that we had dominated the first half,” said Washington head coach Lauren Hannan. “It takes one goal to ruin the flow of the game and we couldn’t get it back.”
Coming out of halftime, the Hatchets renewed their strong defensive pressure, but the Knights began to find much more space in the back end of the Washington defense.
In the 51st minute, Salzman drove towards Hunsinger from the left, but the ball was deflected by the Hatchet goalie and Morgan Saiko was in the right place at the right time. Saiko put her shot in the top of the net to give Castle a 2-0 lead.
Following Saiko’s goal, the Hatchets couldn’t adjust to the Knights constant offensive pressure the rest of the half. In the 65th minute, Abigail Folger added the Knights third goal of the afternoon pushing her shot past Hunsinger in the back left corner.
Shelton added her second goal of the game and Castle’s fourth of the afternoon when Mikelle Martin came at Hunsinger from the right and crossed to Shelton near the left corner post. Hunsinger noticed this pass and dove to stop the pass attempt, but couldn’t get to the ball leaving a wide open goal for Shelton.
Throughout the afternoon, the Castle offense was too much and the Hatchets couldn’t regain the momentum from the first 35 minutes of play.
“It seemed like Castle wanted it more,” Hannan said.
“They came out in the second half and really went at it. We have to give them credit, they did great and they deserve every single goal that they got out there. We just weren’t on it today. We weren’t communicating as well as we normally do. Those games happen; unfortunately it was an important game.”
As Hannan finished off her first year as head coach, she was looking forward to next year for what the current sophomores and juniors will bring to the Hatchets.
“The juniors and sophomores that we have are great leaders,” Hannan said. “I am so excited about next year, because I think having a year under my belt and having a year with them under my belt, I really think that we’re going to get into a flow. It’s going to be a good, hard year and I think everybody will be extremely dedicated and ready to know that this is a game that probably should have been a lot closer. It will be fire going into next year realizing we have to be better than last year.”