Lady T-Birds earn playoff slot with latest win
By Konner Hancock - Staff Reporter
The Highline women's soccer team avenged its only loss of the year and clinched a playoff berth in the process.
The Lady T-Birds beat Green River 1-0 last Saturday and now are one win away from claiming the NWAC West Division title.
Highline leads second-place Tacoma by three points. Highline played Centralia Wednesday, with results unavailable at presstime. The T-Birds finish the regular season at last-place Grays Harbor.
A division title gives the team a better draw in the first round of the playoffs. A victory would give Highline the crown, as they have the tiebreaker with two wins over Tacoma.
Highline lost its only match of the season back in September to the Gators, but didn't let this one get away.
Sophomore defender Sierra Leach put Highline in front with a goal in the 62nd minute. Highline's defense, led by goalie Rachael Thompson with six saves, made that stand up.
"It was a very good win for us. We played well, had a lot of quality chances and played with a lot of intensity. They force us to bring our game, and this time we were ready," said Highline Head Coach Thomas Moore.
"This was a good measure of the fact we're continuing to get better at the end of the league. It's important that we keep moving forward and get ready to peak here in the next two weeks," said Moore.
However, about midway through the game, defender Maya Gray was injured and had to be taken out of play.
"We don't know Maya's timeline to return, or if she will be able to. I hope she is able to continue on since it's her sophomore year, and I know how hard she has worked along with everyone this season," said Moore.
The details and extent of Gray's injury were unavailable at press time.
"Sara Olanda stepped in for Maya. She normally plays up front, but has also helped us out in the back when needed, she is a great all-around player. It hurts taking her out of [her normal position], but if it's best for the team, then she may cover for Maya during her recovery," he said.
The T-Birds hold the third best record in the conference at 11-1. They are ranked fifth in the latest NWAC Coaches poll.
"Obviously I'm extremely proud of the girls. They have done a great job of rising to the occasion up to this point," said Moore.
"We've asked them to perform and they've stepped up when needed. It will be a challenge to continue, but that's what we're all here for, to challenge ourselves and get better in the process."
Wednesday's game against Centralia was expected to be hard-fought, as the Trailblazers are battling Green River for the West's last playoff spot.