Thick and scary clouds hung to the north, but they wouldn’t have an effect on the night’s kick-off. The only question was whether more rain clouds would move in from the southwest, with a healthy wind blowing up on the hill at Bellarmine Prep’s Memorial Field on Tuesday, Oct. 2.
The Puyallup Vikings girls’ soccer team would bring an unblemished 8-0-0 record into the match, while Bellarmine was also looking tough with an undefeated 5-0-2 mark.
What was most important to these two clubs was keeping themselves at the head of the nine-team 4A South Puget Sound League pack. With an uneven number of teams, the league cannot fit a full 16-team league bill into a regular season, so each team plays four teams twice, and another four teams only once. This year, the bean counters came up with just one meeting between the Vikings and the Lions, so the stakes were going to be even higher.
It may have been quite windy and chilly outside, but you wouldn’t have known it from the heat of battle taking place on the Bellarmine pitch. Both squads gave as good as they got, and at times, the play got a little physical. Luckily, cooler heads continued to prevail throughout the match, and neither side pushed their actions beyond a simple, hard-nosed effort.
The first 10 minutes of play saw Puyallup attempt to take early control of the match. However, the Lions began nudging the ball deeper into Viking territory by the end of the 10 minutes. The second 10 minutes of action was pretty much a carbon copy of the first, with both teams looking for some openings in the opposition’s defense. It also became clear early on, that the accuracy of passes was going to be impacted by the wet playing surface at Memorial Field. There was nowhere for the ball to grab on the field, and instead, the ball tended to have a nasty skip to it.
Bellarmine had a prime opportunity in the third 10 minutes of play on a corner kick. However, a collision with Puyallup freshman goalkeeper Rylee Wood killed the chance for the Lions, and the scoring chance was turned away. It wouldn’t take long for Puyallup to take advantage of Bellarmine’s near miss.
With 10 minutes left in the first half, Puyallup junior midfielder Elsa Bley took a pass from the end-line that ran across the face of the Bellarmine goal and sent the shot toward the back of the net. Bellarmine senior goalkeeper Isabel Davis dove and got a hand on the ball, stopping it’s momentum, but the ball continued to spin on the turf, and subsequently rolled just inside of the left post for a 1-0 Puyallup lead.
The Lions had a shot at an equalizer goal a few minutes before the half. Bellarmine sophomore Grace Edvalds zipped through the Puyallup defense, hot on the trail of a lead pass into the box. Wood came off her line and rushed the ball, but was too late, as Edvalds crushed the ball with her right foot.
Unfortunately, the aim was a little off for Edvalds, and the ball sailed just outside of the right post. Puyallup would take its 1-0 lead into the halftime break.
Bellarmine and Puyallup went right back at it in the second half. Neither squad was able to get an early push into their opponent’s end of the field, as most of the play took place in the middle-third of the pitch.
The Lions finally had another great chance 24-minutes into the second half. Bellarmine would set up for a corner kick, and the players massed in front of the Puyallup goal. After a ricochet out of the box, Bellarmine freshman defender Kylie Leverett had the ball at her feet, and an opening in front of her. However, her right-footed kick didn’t have enough gas on it, and it was covered up by Puyallup freshman goalkeeper Ally Larkin before it could find a home inside the right post.
Puyallup would tack on a goal by junior Sydney Evans with just 10 minutes left to play, and the 2-0 lead was too much for Bellarmine to overcome.
The Lions host a big match against Sumner on Saturday, Oct. 6, at 3 p.m. Puyallup will host Curtis on Saturday, Oct. 13, at 7:30 p.m.