For the third straight year, the King’s Way Christian girls soccer team lost 1-0 in the first round of the Class 1A state playoffs.
Meridian defender Emily Kooiman was able to handle a corner kick from Payton Lunde and slot it past the keeper on the far post in the 29th minute for the lone score.
The Knights were not without their own opportunities. About halfway through the first period, Payton Pulicella, Andrea Finely and MacKenzie Ellertson each had decent chances. None were able to find the back of the net.
“We were right there. If we could have been a little bit more composed with the pressure, I think that’s what got us,” King’s Way coach Tina Ellertson said. “We had the right ideas, we just struggled to execute in the tight moments.”
Facing their first halftime deficit this year, the Knights were able to stay positive in unfamiliar territory.
“They had a great spirit at halftime,” Tina Ellertson said. “They weren’t down; they knew they could get it back.”
Immediately after the break, Mali Mack from Meridian had an excellent shot from about ten yards out, but King’s Way goalkeeper Hannah Moats was able to get a hand on it and keep the game within striking distance.
With no seniors on the King’s Way squad, Moats was the player the team rallied around.
“She kept us in today,” Tina Ellertson said. She didn’t have too many saves but she was confident, she was smart and she was a presence. She was a leader today.”
With a roster of 12 sophomores and four freshmen, the future is undoubtedly bright for the Knights.
“We grew today. There was experience that was learned from this,” the coach said. “We’ll remember these situations so we can make sure we can come next time with more composure.”
Growth was the message Ellertson was sending after the game. With the team huddled together, arms around one another, the Knights met for the last time this season. While the immediate reaction was disappointment, the confidence and passion were apparent.
“We’ll be back again,” Ellertson said. “We’ll be back.”