BATTLE GROUND — One Hockinson soccer player after another, each looking calm and focused, stepped up to the penalty-kick spot.
With their season on the line, it would be understandable if each were nervous.
But if they were, the Hawks didn’t show it.
Hockinson was perfect in a penalty kick shootout on Wednesday to beat Sehome and advance to the quarterfinals of the Class 2A girls soccer playoffs.
After regulation and overtime finished tied 1-1, Hockinson triumphed in the shootout 5-4 at District Stadium. The only miss came when Sehome’s fourth kicker hit the crossbar.
After Sophia Broten made Hockinson’s fifth kick to clinch victory, both she and goalkeeper Ashley Suva were mobbed by their teammates.
It was a release of excitement that came after a close and competitive first-round match between the No. 7-seeded Hawks and the No. 10 seed from Bellingham.
For Hockinson senior Kylie Ritter, the intensity of playoff soccer felt vastly different than the regular season.
“It’s insane,” Ritter said. “All the emotions are so much higher. Everyone wants it so much more. It’s the fear of if you lose, soccer is over.”
Ritter put Hockinson ahead just 12 minutes into the match. She launched a long, looping shot from near the right sideline that curved inside the far post.
“It was just the right place at the right time,” Ritter said. “It was that type of night, I guess. We got a little bit of luck, but I’m so proud of our girls.”
Suva made six saves, including two from close range that preserved Hockinson’s lead.
The sophomore goalkeeper said making a point-blank save comes down to reaction and aggression.
“I don’t really think about it,” Suva said. “I don’t want them to come to me, so I go to them.”
Sehome tied the match with 15 minutes left. Ava Lunny booted a long free kick into a scrum in front of the goal. That’s where Evelyn Keay won the ball and scored from close range.
Sehome nearly won in overtime, when Keay’s free kick from just outside the penalty area skimmed over the crossbar.
But despite the close call, Hockinson would never become flustered. Ellie Ritter, Grace Abbott, Allie Seekins, Abby Dombrow and Broten each converted in the shootout.
“Honestly it was just our preparation,” Kylie Ritter said. “Our girls are so close. We’ve played together forever. We’ve had a lot of younger girls step up. We didn’t freak out, we kept composed and trusted each other.”
Hockinson (14-6) will face No. 2 seed Burlington-Edison on Saturday in a quarterfinal match to be held in Sedro-Woolley.