Soccer: Perfect shot sinks Union in quarterfinal

Mead ends Titans' season with 1-0 victory

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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In a match where attacking space was difficult for either team to find, Mead's 1-0 girls soccer win over Union on Saturday at McKenzie Stadium came down to one opportunistic touch.

Panthers' midfielder Alea Acosta delivered a perfectly-placed shot eight minutes after halftime as the visitors from Spokane advanced to the Class 4A state semifinals and ended the season for the Titans.

Acosta found the ball at her feet about 12 yards in front of the goal after Union defenders blocked shots from two of her teammates. Acosta's shot along the ground avoided a defender and the reach of Titans goalkeeper Mo Spieth as it slid just inside the right post.

Mead (16-2-1) will meet rival Central Valley in an all-Spokane semifinal on Friday.

"It was a typical quarterfinal match," Union coach Kelcey Burris said. "At this point (in the season) there are usually limited opportunities and the team that takes advantage of its opportunity wins."

Union's best scoring chance came with just over five minutes left. Forward Alex Sanders was open to receive a cross to the left side of the penalty area. Her attempt went high. The Titans, who added attacking players to their formation for the final 10 minutes, also had two late corner kicks that eluded Mead goalkeeper Ashlyn Juul but were cleared away before a Titan could find the ball.

"I thought my girls played their hearts out," Burris said. "We just came out on the wrong end today,"

Union finished the season with 16 wins, four losses and one draw. Burris said Mead was the best opponent his team faced this season.

After Mead had a few decent chances early in the match, the first half was played mostly in midfield as the teams fought for 50-50 balls and the defenses limited each attack from sustaining possession.

Mead coach Kevin Houston said that he asked his players to be more patient in the second half. Union was shutting off the crosses that the Panthers sent into the penalty area and outnumbering their forwards.

"What we needed to do is just connect passes," Houston said. "Hold onto possession, connect passes with each other and then swing the ball. That allowed us to get into situations where we're going to be one-v-one."

On the possession that led to the goal, Mead moved the ball around the perimeter of the 18-yard box and tried two shots that were blocked by defenders. But the second of those deflections bounced to Acosta and created the opportunity that decided the match.

Central Valley 7, Camas 0 -- Marie Matthews had three saves and Julia Coombs added two as the Papermakers' season ended with a quarterfinal loss in Spokane.