The Union girls soccer team went toe to toe with defending champion Skyline in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament.
But it was the hands of Spartans goalkeeper Jaden Chew that had the Titans shaking their heads after a 2-1 loss ended Union's season on Wednesday at McKenzie Stadium.
Chew made two big stops in the second half and Anna Deweirdt made two game-changing plays as the visitors from Sammamish advanced to the state quarterfinals.
"We have no reason to be disappointed in ourselves," said Union sophomore Delaney Lindahl, who scored the Titans' goal. "I think we all played extremely hard. I think we'll keep growing as a team, and next year we'll come back and play just as hard and go at everyone."
Skyline's Deweirdt scored an opportunistic goal in the 10th minute to put the Spartans on top. A long throw-in by Bianca Saint bounced a couple of times in front of goal and Deweirdt was able to poke the ball home.
Union played with more urgency at the start of the second half, and drew even in the 46th minute. Lindahl scored with a strong shot from near the top of the 18-yard box on a play that started with a Union corner kick.
"I just saw the defender head it back out," Lindahl said. "It bounced and I took a touch wide and just thought we needed to get some shots off and decided to shoot."
The celebration was short-lived. Skyline shifted formations, moving Deweirdt from midfield to forward. She made a strong run to the right corner flag and her diagonal cross was driven home by Rachel Shim.
"We really thought if we could get to the end line we could create some chances," Skyline coach Don Braman said. "Our girls recognized the opportunity and they all worked together. It was excellent."
Once in the lead, the Spartans fell back, crowding the midfield and making it difficult for Union to generate any sustained attack.
"We have kids with experience who understand how to play a tough team like Union," Branam said. He credited midfielder Brooke Bofto for setting the tone with her aggressive play in midfield.
Union, which often this season dictated the game by winning the majority of contested balls, was forced to fight for possession against the Spartans.
"They're defending state champs for a reason," Union coach Kelcey Burris said. "I thought we competed with them, played hard the entire time, but were just unfortunate to come out on the wrong end."
Burris pointed to two quality saves by Chew as the difference in a game that featured few high-quality chances.
Despite having only three seniors on its roster — Bobbi Eckler, Carlee Maluenda and Emma Alfonso -- Union finished 16-2-1 including a 4A Greater St. Helens League co-championship and the District 4 title.
"We were able to re-establish our identity this year," Burris said. "I couldn't ask more of the three seniors."