A record-breaking soccer season to remember continued for the Auburn Riverside girls on Wednesday night.
Kiana Gutierrez’s daring dash and dramatic goal with just over a minute into overtime vaulted the Ravens into the 4A state quarterfinals, leaving the Hornets out in the cold of a physical, hard-fought match at Auburn Memorial Stadium..
“I wasn’t surprised but I was super excited,” Auburn Riverside coach Paul Lewis said of the winning goal. “When you get to this point, when there’s so much to play for, everybody raises their game a bit. Enumclaw challenged us to see if we could overcome it.”
They did, and in doing so, Auburn Riverside (18-1-1) moves on to play Olympia (10-5-4) in the second round at 2 p.m. Saturday, also at Troy Field. The Ravens, who had never advanced beyond the first round of the state tournament before Wednesday’s game, lost to the Bears 2-0 in a winner-t0-state game last year.
“They are a scrappy, hard-nosed team like Enumclaw,” Lewis said. “It’s going to be a really good challenge … the kids are excited. Should be fun. (Olympia is) very good.”
Enumclaw, which handed the third-ranked Ravens their only loss of the season back in September, finished its run 11-6-3.
“I’m at a loss for words right now,” said Hornets coach Shawn Tobias. “Just disappointed. We’ve come this far. We had our chances. It just hurts.”
The North Puget Sound League teams had split their Olympic Division matches – with the Hornets winning at home (1-0 on Sept. 24) and the Ravens responding at home (3-1 on Oct. 17). Wednesday’s state playoff opener was a tightly wound rubber match with each team scrambling but missing several scoring chances throughout 80 minutes of regulation play.
“They know how we play and we know how they play,” said Ravens senior forward Stephanie Igwala. “They wanted revenge, and we knew they have beaten us before. … Their mentality is they could do it again, and we had to tell them we were the better team. We proved that.”
Monica Brown, the Hornets’ senior midfielder, moved to the center-back position and joined her teammates to smother the Ravens’ attack, keeping it in check.
“She did a really good job,” Lewis said of Brown. “She put out a lot of fires when we were attacking … that was good strategy in trying to slow us down. We still had some opportunities but it wasn’t like the same breakouts that we had the last time we played them.
“They raised their game and challenged us.”
Scoreless in regulation, the teams turned to a five-minute, sudden-death overtime session to settle it. Auburn Riverside immediately put an end to it when Grace Anderson’s left-footed, well-placed diagonal pass skirted between Enumclaw defenders and found a streaking Gutierrez, who beat a defender to the ball and cut to the goal. She stopped, gathered her feet and deposited the ball into the upper right shelf of the net with 3:48 left to play in the extra period.
Instant celebration ensued.
“I knew she (goalie Claire Lewis) was going to try to force me to the left side so I paused and cut it to my right, and then just shot it perfectly,” said Gutierrez, a sophomore forward, who has scored 20 goals this season. “It feels very good, very very good.
“We pulled it out. We all knew what we came here to do,” she added. “The game was a little iffy here and there, but at the end we win and we’re going on, so it’s a good feeling.”
And a not-so good feeling for the Hornets, who had their chances to come home with the win.
“I’m just proud of my girls. They played hard,” Tobias said. “Unfortunately, soccer can be cruel, and it wasn’t our day. But again, I am so proud of my girls and how they played. The heart they gave, the desire. … It just hurts.”
Bella Reckling made seven saves and posted the shutout in goal for the Ravens.