It appears the best of South Puget Sound League (SPSL) North Division girls soccer are on a collision course.
If all goes according to plan for Tahoma (5-0-0), top-ranked in Class 4A, and Kentwood (5-0-0), ranked No. 6 in 4A, Saturday’s SPSL North showdown could pit a pair of unbeatens going for the division lead.
And, local bragging rights.
The matchup of neighboring rivals – located 2.4 miles apart – features two of the state’s top teams in 4A.
The battle of unbeatens could play out if both schools win the first two matches of a three-match week. Even if one or both teams fail to enter Saturday unscathed, the match won’t lack for intrigue.
“As a coach, you always look at where we match up with playing Tahoma and the luck of the draw again puts us head to head at the last round of games in league play,” Kentwood coach Aaron Radford said. “In addition to Saturday, we also get to play them at the very end of our league season (Oct. 25 at French Field). I think Tahoma is very well deserving of the No. 1 spot in the state. From what I’ve seen from Tahoma, they are very dangerous.
“They have such a good work rate. I can see in their players’ eyes that they are really motivated to make the best out of this season.”
With just six of 20 players back from last year’s team that fell to eventual state champion Skyline 1-0 in the state quarterfinals, Radford knows his team will get to its progress against Tahoma.
“They have a really good core group of players,” Radford added. “You have to account for every one of their players for 80 minutes. I just hope we continue to play well enough, not only this week and but the remainder of the season where those two games with (Tahoma) means something.
“There’s always the competitive nature of the two teams. We could be the bottom two teams and I think we’d still come out and have one of the best games of the season in terms of the competition level.”
The Bears of Tahoma travel to Jefferson on Tuesday in a 5:30 p.m. contest and then hosts Kentlake on Thursday at 7:30 p.m. The Conquerors host Auburn on Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and Auburn-Riverside on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
The two teams met in the Class 4A state championship in 2010 with Kentwood coming out on top 1-0 in penalty-kick shootout after the squads were scoreless for 80 minutes of regulation and two five-minute overtime sessions.
That was the Conks’ first state title in girls soccer. Tahoma has won three state crowns with its last coming in 2005. The Bears topped Kentwood 1-0 in the first round of state during the 2005 title run.
The rivalry took flight shortly after Kentwood opened in 1981 and has been building to epic proportions of late.
“It’s a fun rivalry and we both look forward to the game and the girls are always up for the game, because it’s Kentwood,” said Tahoma coach Jason Johnson, whose team fell to Skyline 1-0 in last year’s state semifinals after the runner-up finish in 2010. “I’m excited for the opportunity on Saturday. It’s just a stepping stone. I don’t think it’s a pivotal game, but I think whoever wins it will give that team confidence going forward.
“It will give the team some momentum.”
The Conquerors own a four-match winning streak against the Bears and a 6-1-2 record in the last nine meetings.
“They’ve kind of had our number,” Johnson said. “These girls have all been playing together since they were very little. Playing two times a year adds to it.”
Johnson gets a feeling that this group of Bears is capable of takings that next step after a pair of Final Fours that failed to yield a title.
“This group has an abundance of talent and the will to do well,” he said.
Tahoma has outscored opponents 22-1 so far. Kentwood has a 15-1 advantage over its foes.
If Kentwood wants to have a chance at beating the Bears, it must contain creative central midfielder Brie Hooks.
Hooks, a four-year starter who has verbally committed to Colorado, makes the Tahoma offense click.
“Brie Hooks is a standout, but they have so many good players,” said Radford.
The Bears also have trio of three-year starters in senior Mackenzie Henke and juniors Cheyenne Haverfield and Tori Tappero.
Henke leads Tahoma with nine goals and Hooks, the best set-up player in the area, has four goals and nine assists.
“We have a ton of experience back and it’s from those two Final Fours,” Johnson said.
Issaquah, ranked No. 4 in 4A, jumped up from No. 14 to No. 6 in the national rankings picture while Tahoma, No. 1 in 4A, moved into the “also receiving votes” category, just outside the Top 25 in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA) national poll for Sept. 18, 2012. Here’s the Sept. 11 poll below:
Here are this week’s top matchups:
Monday, Sept. 24 – KingCo 3A/2A, Liberty (Issaquah) at No. 10 Mercer Island, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, Sept. 25 – 3A Metro League Mountain Division, No. 6 Lakeside at No. 4 Seattle Prep (Lower Woodland #7), 3:30 p.m.; Eastside Catholic at No. 9 Bainbridge, 6:45 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 27 – 4A Narrows League, South Kitsap at No. 5 Bellarmine Prep, 4 p.m.; KingCo 4A, No. 4 Issaquah at Ballard, 7:30 p.m.; WesCo 4A, Snohomish at No. 7 Edmonds-Woodway, 7:30 p.m.; South Puget Sound League (SPSL) 3A, No. 3 Auburn Mountainview at Enumclaw, 7 p.m.; 3A Metro League Mountain Division, No. 4 Seattle Prep at Bishop Blanchet, 3:30 p.m.; No. 9 Bainbridge at No. 6 Lakeside, 3:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 29 – 4A South Puget Sound League (SPSL) North, No. 6 Kentwood at No. 1 Tahoma, 7:30 p.m.
Here are The Seattle Times 2012 rankings for Class 4A, 3A and 2A for Week 4 (current 2012 record in parentheses):
Class 4A, 3A & 2A girls soccer state rankings – Week 4
1, Tahoma (Maple Valley) (5-0-0)
2, Gig Harbor (3-0-0)
3, Skyline (Sammamish) (5-0-2)
4, Issaquah (7-1-0)
5, Bellarmine Prep (Tacoma) (4-1-0)
6, Kentwood (Covington) (5-0-0)
7, Edmonds-Woodway (6-0-0)
8, Mead (Spokane) (4-1-0)
9, Davis (Yakima) (8-0-0)
10, Union (Vancouver) (6-0-0)
On the bubble: Kentridge (4-2-0), South Kitsap (3-1-0), Gonzaga Prep (Spokane) (6-1-1), Central Valley (Spokane) (5-1-0), Ferris (Spokane) (4-2-0), Camas (6-1-0), Redmond (3-3-1), Skyview (Vancouver) (5-0-2), Snohomish (4-3-0), Inglemoor (5-1-1), Curtis (5-0-1), Puyallup (5-0-1), Cascade (Everett) (5-1-1), Moses Lake (4-2-0), Pasco (4-1-0), Federal Way (2-0-2), Olympia (3-1-0), Woodinville (2-2-1), Ballard (5-2-0), Arlington (4-2-1).
1, Meadowdale (Lynnwood) (7-0-0)
2, Mount Spokane (8-0-0)
3, Auburn Mountainview (3-1-1)
4, Seattle Prep (7-1-1)
5, Everett (6-1-0)
6, Lakeside (5-1-1)
7, Interlake (Bellevue) (4-1-1)
8, Kamiakin (Kennewick) (7-0-1)
9, Bainbridge (6-1-0)
10, Mercer Island (5-0-1)
On the bubble: Mount Si (4-2-0), Eastside Catholic (3-3-0), Holy Names (5-3-0), Bishop Blanchet (4-4-1), Shorecrest (4-2-0), Kennedy Catholic (3-2-0), Bonney Lake (2-2-1), Columbia River (5-0-1), Enumclaw (4-2-0), Liberty (Issaquah) (4-2-0), Hanford (5-3-0), University (Spokane) (4-2-0), Hazen (3-1-1).
1, Sumner (6-0-0)
2, West Valley (Yakima) (6-0-0)
3, Archbishop Murphy (Everett) (7-0-0)
4, Sehome (Bellingham) (6-0-1)
5, Klahowya (Silverdale) (7-0-0)
6, Pullman (6-1-0)
7, Fife (4-1-0)
8, Squalicum (Bellingham) (4-0-1)
9, Capital (Olympia) (6-1-0)
10, West Valley (Spokane) (5-1-0)
On the bubble: Black Hills (4-2-0), W.F. West (Chehalis) (6-1-0), Cedarcrest (Duvall) (3-3-0), White River (3-2-0), Lakewood (2-3-1), Clarkston (3-2-0), Hockinson (5-3-1), East Valley (Yakima) (5-2-0), Cheney (3-3-0), Tumwater (4-2-0), Ridgefield (2-3-1).