Auburn Riverside soars into postseason play | Prep girls soccer

This season the Raven girls soccer team has been downright stingy. Through 16 games Auburn Riverside has given up just five goals total and never more than one goal in any one game.

This season the Raven girls soccer team has been downright stingy.

Through 16 games Auburn Riverside has given up just five goals total and never more than one goal in any one game.

The team, led by senior Kristina Nelson, the South Puget Sound League 3A Goalkeeper of the Year, has also notched 11 shutouts, resulting in a 14-2-0 record and second place in league. The Ravens regular season success has led to a berth in the district tourney, where the team played SPSL 3A rival Bonney Lake (4-8-1) at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner in a loser-out contest. A win moves Auburn Riverside on to a  winner-to-state, loser-out match against either Enumclaw (7-8-1) or Wilson (3-4-1) Saturday at Highline Memorial Stadium in Burien.

“We’ve just been playing tremendous defense,” Lewis said. “It’s really been the strength of the team. It all starts with the goalkeeper, and Kristina has been huge for us. She not only has all her shutouts, but we’ve also been in three shootouts and won every one. There has been some great shooting in those, but shootouts come down to goalkeeping, and she has been great in those. You get a couple saves and that helps. She’s just confident and that gives the other kids confidence.”

In addition to Nelson’s play between the pipes, Lewis singled out the defensive play of freshman Taylor Smith, also an SPSL 3A All-League selection.

“She’s been really solid,” Lewis said. “She’s a dominant player. As a club player she plays offense, but for us she plays defense. And she has three goals from there. From the back, she and Kristina have led it. Our focus as a team has been great. We just have a solid defense. And if you can hold onto zero, it gives you a better chance. We’ve got good offensive players, but I think defense is where it all starts.”

Defense may be key, but the Ravens have mustered enough offensive firepower to tie the school record for wins in the regular season wins at 14, Lewis said.

“After seeing the team at tryouts, I knew we’d be good,” he said. “I thought we’d be better offensively, but we’ve been good enough.”

The team has posted 30 goals in 16 games, for a 1.875 goals-per-game average. Senior midfielder Calli Millang has led the way with six goals and six assists on the season.

Chipping in has been senior Robin Hood, who leads the team in assists with eight and has contributed five goals. Sophomore Patricia Phithamma has added five goals and an assist.

Also aiding the team in its quest for a state tourney berth have been the team’s co-captains Kellie Jensen, Jewli-Ann Young-Holm and Izzy Creighton, and the team’s senior laden roster.

“Anytime you have that many kids (8) that are experienced, that have a good amount of skill, you’re going to have success,” Lewis said. “They’re composed all through the season, so you don’t have as many ups and downs as a predominately younger team.”

The Ravens look to move on to the state tourney this week, and tie the season-win record for Raven girls soccer by winning their 15th game of the season.

ALSO: The Auburn Mountainview girls soccer team has earned a berth in the district 3A tourney with a third-place finish in the SPSL 3A with a 10-4-0 record, 10-5-1 overall

The Lions played North Thurston (10-6-0) on Thursday in a loser-out contest. The winner moves on to a winner-to-state, loser-out contest at 2 p.m. Saturday at Highline Memorial Stadium in Burien against either Prarie (8-6-3) or Capital (10-3-2). The state tourney begins Nov. 10 at various locations.