On a dank Saturday afternoon, Mead rained down on host Central Valley in the District 8 4A girls soccer championship.
The Panthers stifled the regular season Greater Spokane League champions on their way to a 2-0 victory. It was Panthers coach Kevin Houston’s first girls district title.
The Bears, who lost for only the second time, came out quickly, but missed some near-point blank scoring opportunities. As the game wore on their passes seemed to only wind up at the feet of their foe. CV players were blanketed by two and three blue-jerseyed opponents who rendered league scoring leader Kelsey Bowman an afterthought. CV’s first half was spent on its own side of the field frustrated as they were by Mead’s stifling defense.
“It’s kind of based off who we are playing,” Panthers third-year coach Houston said of the strategy. “We were able to double team a lot of plays up front and kept CV bottled up. That was just us working hard.”
The match opened with an open Bears shot from the right side of the goal. But it slammed off the cross bar. After, a crossing shot went wide, Turnbow was doubled on an attack and her best shot to score went for naught. A free kick went over the net and another shot on an open net went wide.
“I think we should have taken advantage early in the game,” said CV coach Andres Monrroy, stating the obvious. “Those first 20 minutes we had some good opportunities to score and we didn’t do that.”
From there it was all Mead. Near the midpoint of the first half, sophomore midfielder Katie Greene scored past CV keeper Chloe Scholtz, who had lost her footing on the soggy turf trying to get there.
From then on defenders frustrated the Bears by consistently beating them to the ball.
“We wanted to make sure the way we play was getting into passing lanes before anything happens,” Houston said. “They got where they needed to be and anticipated where the ball would be.”
In the second minute of the second half freshman forward Olivia Sloan and sophomore Claire Neder raced past CV’s defense and Neder found her teammate who converted the one-on-one that effectively decided the game.
Houston said from that period on he had the girls ease back on the attack.
Last year Mead lost twice in shootouts, including in the State 4A semifinals.
“I told the girls on the bus, ‘Hey, let’s just not even go there,’ ” Houston said. “ ‘Let’s win it outright. Play 80 minutes whistle to whistle and leave it at that.’ They just had motivation.”