Kaylin Sperley netted a first half penalty kick, Kendall Spencer added a late goal and Prairie withstood a late comeback effort to defeat Capital 2-1 on Saturday in the 3A bi-district playoffs at Prairie High School.
The Falcons solidified a trip to the state playoffs.
Happy to make it? Sure.
Satisfied? Not quite.
Prairie wanted to make it to the final eight teams last year, but lost 1-0 in the first round. Now the Falcons look to their much-anticipated round of 16 game with anticipation.
“The next game is really the one we want more than anything,” Prairie coach Michael Thyron said.
On Saturday it did just enough to win.
“I always feel like this is the toughest game because we’re nervous,” Thyron said. “We also haven’t played in 10 days. We lost some of our sharpness.”
Prairie will face the winner of Marysville-Getchell and Edmonds-Woodway out of District I on either Tuesday or Wednesday.
“Our goal is to take it one game at a time,” said Sperley, a senior forward.
By that measure, Saturday was a success.
The Falcons spent the majority of the game — namely the second half — with the ball in the attacking third. Shot after shot missed, but the goal scoring opportunities continued to pour in from working the outsides.
“We noticed their outside backs on the right were kind of staggered so we could play those through balls in, and we got a ton of time and give-and-goes through,” Sperley said. “We just wanted to really attack and not look to drop the ball.”
A handful of through balls to Prairie players one-on-one with the keeper were whistled offside.
“Final decisions, final passes, the precision — the little things,” Thyron said. “We were our own worst enemy at times.”
A handball midway through the first half gave Prairie a penalty kick. Sperley elected to take it and placed a firm ball on the ground to the right of the keeper. Her method, she says, is to misdirect the keeper with her approach.
“I never look at the keeper,” Sperley, a first team all 3A Greater St. Helens League selection, said. “I look at the ball the entire time. I kind of do this hip thing, all my teammates love it. It kind of throws (the keeper) off thinking it’s going one way, but it goes the other way.”
Prairie struck again midway through the second half.
Savannah Harshbarger sent a free kick into a crowded six-yard box. The ball bounced past the Capital goalkeeper and Spencer redirected it to give the Falcons a two-goal cushion.
Physical play elevated to testy in the final 10 minutes, especially after Capital scored late in the game on a counter attack.
“It was a high ball and our keeper misjudged it on the bounce a little bit. It happens,” Thyron said. “Our defense as a whole was for the most part pretty good.”
A yellow card was handed out to Prairie in the final minutes. Going forward, Prairie hopes to curb the physicality enough to where it doesn’t hinder the fluidity of possessing the ball.
” We like to play our game and that’s possession to goal,” Sperley said. “Once it gets a little chippy, it’s a little difficult to really move the ball around.”