In this edition of “The Full 80,” a look at Issaquah’s attempt to stay in front in the KingCo 4A title chase.
Eagles try to keep flying above the pack
It is fitting that the final week of the KingCo 4A Conference season comes down to this for the top team.
Highest stakes. Toughest opponents.
The Issaquah High School girls soccer team, which is in the driver’s seat for the KingCo 4 title at 6-0-0 atop the standings, meets its closest pursuers with a lot at stake.
Issaquah (9-1-1 overall) travels to Mount Si (10-2-1 overall, 5-0-1 KingCo 4A) on Tuesday and hosts Skyline (9-2-1, 5-0-1) on Thursday. Both big-time matches have 7:30 p.m. kickoffs.
Eagles coach Tom Bunnell doesn’t worry about his team, ranked No. 1 Class 4A, looking down any its foes.
“This team respects every other opponent to no end,” said Bunnell, whose team in 9-0-0 against in-state opposition. “KingCo’s just as tough as it always is. Every team in KingCo is fantastic, regardless of their record.”
Issaquah tested itself with a pair of early-season nonconference matches. The Eagles fell to nationally-ranked Tualatin, Ore. (then No. 16 in the Top Drawer Soccer Fab 50, 2-1, in their season opener on Sept. 5. Then, they played the nation’s top-ranked team, Maria Carrillo of Santa Rosa, Calif., to a 1-1 draw on Sept. 20.
“When you go play teams like those [nationally-ranked] teams, it just prepares you,” Bunnell said.
Those matches prepared the Eagles for the rough road that is KingCo 4A. The top two teams in KingCo 4A play in the KingCo 4A title match on Nov 3.
“We just had quality defense and excellent goalkeeping,” said Bunnell, whose team has outscored foes 28-7 with five shutouts. “And, we’ve had a balanced attack on offense.”
The confidence starts in goal with junior Anna Miller, who turned in dynamite performance with some diving saves against Maria Carrillo.
“She’s a leader on the field,” Bunnell said. “She’s got everybody’s respect. And, she’s hyper-competitive.
“She just resonates leadership. The team’s confident with a goalkeeper like that. She makes big saves and is really tough.”
Sophomore center back Kaylene Pang also brings confidence to the defense.
“She’s arguably one of the best center backs in the state,” Bunnell said. “I don’t say that lightly. She’s incredible.”
Junior Kasie Beckelman leads the Eagles with 15 points on six goals and three assists. Freshman Catey Nelson has 12 points on five goals and two assists.
The Eagles finished second in Class 4A state last season, losing a heartbreaking 3-2 overtime shootout championship match to Central Valley of Spokane.
The talent is there to get back if the Eagles can get past the tough KingCo 4A teams standing in the way.
Around the Area
One team from Washington state – Issaquah tied at No. 22 — remained in the Top 25 of the national rankings from National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA). Below is the NSCAA’s Oct. 14 poll (the next poll is out today, Oct. 21):
Three teams from Washington are in the NSCAA Region VI Top 15 rankings, led by Issaquah at No. 4 and followed by Skyline of Sammamish at No. 9 and Kentridge at No. 11. The link below is for the Region VI, which came out Oct. 14 (the next poll is out today, Oct. 21):
Four teams from Washington state – Skyline of Sammamish at No. 14, Issaquah at No. 16, Kentridge at No. 26 and Bellevue at No. 48 – are currently in the Fall FAB 50 High School Girls Soccer Rankings from Oct. 14 put out by www.topdrawersoccer.com (the next poll is out today, Oct. 21):