Raiders rise up to give Federal Way the boot
Federal Way's sweeper extraordinaire, Cayla Dixon, tried desperately to get a foot on a cross from Thomas Jefferson's captain Kelsey Racicot in a girls South Puget Sound League South rivalry game that the Raiders won, 1-0, Thursday at Federal Way Memorial.
Just a foot, that's all Dixon needed to have had happen. Even a toe on the ball, or maybe even a toenail.
But that didn't happen. Racicot got off a low lying line drive that sailed untouched across the near-post danger area and into the far post area before Sara Byrne was there to boot it home.
"I was hoping to get off the cross without defenders blocking it," said Racicot. "I saw one little slot to cross the ball in to the middle."
And she made it and that preserved a pretty good thing.
The Raiders improved to a perfect 7-0 while the Eagles fell to 4-3 in the SPSL South.
"It was a good game," said Raiders coach Amy Sutherland. "That was nothing less than what I expected."
Two teams fought hard and it looked like they hated each other out there, but it was friends fighting friends for every single loose ball, spelling an intensity in all caps for all of the game.
"It was getting dirty out there, really a lot of pushing and shoving for the ball. It was a fight to the finish," said sophomore Mel Hicks, who was the one who passed the ball to Racicot on a one-two-three back-and-forth passing play that ended with Racicot making a nice run to the corner, overlapping Hicks,who had passed the ball back to Racicot for that last-minute cross.
And, finally, after both teams shot well for the game, 4-3 shots on goal for the first half favored the Raiders and 7-5 shots tipped the scale the Raiders way in the second half, the Raiders did what they wanted to do all game long.
"That's what we were trying to do the whole game - get someone in the box," said Hicks, only a sophomore but a serious force with the ball when she blazed with it on the turf passing and shooting a couple of the Raiders '11 shots.
Eagles captain Bree Rowe explained her heartfelt feelings afterward, after she did a great job talking to her teammates the whole game and encouraging them.
"It feels great, feels really good," said Rowe, letting anyone that wanted to that losing was like winning in this one.
Plus the Raiders have been unstoppable, with 22 goals for so far this season and zero goals against in their seven games played.
It took a perfect level of intensity to have a game come out like this and both teams proved that either could be 7-0 and not have any goals scored against them yet this season, albeit for one game.
"We were supposed to lose 4-0," said Rowe. "That's what everyone outside of school was saying. It was unfortunate, 43 seconds left and they scored a goal. That hasn't happened in a game this year I don't think. Everyone played their hardest. We were unlucky. But once it happened, there was nothing we could do about it."
The goal came and that was the game. The whistle blew 42 seconds later.
Racicot offered why the Raiders are so good this season.
"All of the juniors have played together," she said. "We all play on the same team or have played on the same club team at some time growing up, the Federal Way Reign '88."
The win was a good one that really impressed Sutherland as she spoke to Racicot and Hicks and Michelle Borth as they were leaving the field afterward.
"You guys just take the day off tomorrow," she said.
"We can't," said Racicot. "We have tests."
"Well," said Sutherland. "You don't take any notes. Reward yourselves. You just beat Federal Way."
So, quite a game. Quite a nice thing afterward as Rowe was talking with friends outside the parking lot. It was the Raiders' Mel Hicks who caught her eye and both hugged each other, even after all that figurative bloodletting out there.
"That was nice to see," said Sutherland, smiling, watching Hicks and Rowe embrace a moment. "That's cool to see that Rowe gave Hicks a hug. That is what it is all about."
This game was back-and-forth action all game long. Both teams had at least a couple each of close chances that were not capitalized on. Shots went wide of the near or far post or were cleared over the crossbar. Also, some good goalie work went on from Kelci Keyes of the Eagles and Ellen Yates of the Raiders. Keyes made a point-blank stop of a Brittany Creek shot in the middle of the second half that was close. Yates came out of her goal on several occassions to get to the ball before Rowe or forwards like Britni Racus could get there.
"It was a good challenge," said Racicot. "We always look forward to the rivalry games"
The last 10 minutes were anybody's game. The Eagles had it on their end a couple times in the last part of the game before a clear by Dixon was trapped by Brittany McKay, who two-touched the ball over the defense and that led to the ball staying on the Raiders' end that last two and a half minutes until the score.
"They (the Eagles) got down there in the last 10 minutes, but we managed to work the ball even with that high pressure," said Sutherland. "The last 10 minutes could have see-sawed the game either way. Luckily we didn't make any huge mistakes."
The season is young but what a start for the Raiders.
"We only won four games last year," Racicot said.
Sutherland thinks that the start is good but can be bad too if things are not taken in proper perspective by the players.
"Hopefully we can keep on building," Sutherland said. "Since we have had this early success, it can make you complacent. We are not even halfway through this season yet."