SHORELINE — Earlier this season, some doubt emerged about Hockinson’s ability to make a deep playoff run.
It wasn’t an internal feeling among the girls soccer team. Quite the opposite.
The Hawks felt they were written off by their peers after losing two key players to injury and stumbling out of the gate with a 2-3 record back in September.
“People counted us out early in the season because of all those things,” Hockinson head coach George Moya said. “It’s a small community. People talk. They know players, word gets around and you get a target on your back.”
However, being an underdog can serve as a powerful motivator. The Hawks seemed to embrace that position and use it to their advantage as they came back with a vengeance.
Hockinson did, in fact, reach the Class 2A girls soccer state championship game Saturday night at Shoreline Stadium, but came home with a second-place trophy.
No. 1 seed Archbishop Murphy (23-0) put the finishing touches on an undefeated season by claiming a 2-0 win over No. 7 Hockinson to earn the school its third state championship.
The ending was similar to two years prior when Hockinson came up short in the championship game to Columbia River, and when the Hawks went to accept their trophy Saturday, they couldn’t help but make light of the situation they found themselves in again.
But Moya was quick to remind them that these weren’t the same circumstances as two years ago.
Hockinson’s season changed when 2A Greater St. Helens League MVP Payton Lawson suffered a season-ending knee injury in June. Then came a broken finger for goalkeeper Amanda Jeschke just three games into the season. The senior wasn’t able to return until Friday’s semifinal game against Ridgefield.
“We’ve had a ton of setbacks,” senior Ellie Ritter said, “with Amanda and my best friend Payton wasn’t able to play this year, which was tough. But it just shows our relentlessness. Every single day we come to practice, we work … that’s just how we’re here.”
Meanwhile, Archbishop Murphy of Everett showed why it earned the No. 1 seed and cruised through the first two rounds of the playoffs.
The Wildcats took a 1-0 lead in the 31st minute on a scramble in front of Hockinson’s goal, where Reeve Borseth spun around and got a foot on the ball to guide it into the net.
Early into the second half, the Wildcats earned a string of corner kicks, which the Hawks defense responded well to initially.
But as Archbishop Murphy’s possessions piled up, the Wildcats struck again in the 47th minute on a Jordyn Latta goal, which was scored on a rebound effort following a corner kick.
“They’re well-coached, everyone knows their system and their role within that system and they execute it well,” Moya said of Archbishop Murphy. “It showed today and it showed all season. Of course, we don’t know them that well. But, based on what we saw, they had a gameplan and they executed it.”
Jeschke was credited with three saves in her final game, including a highlight-reel diving save during the Wildcats’ flurry of chances within the first 10 minutes of the second half.
“She just stepped up when we needed her,” Ellie Ritter said. “She’s our captain … (Ashley) Suva stepped up for us, but then when she couldn’t make it, Amanda came in and it’s like she never left. She’s making save after save, then we’re coming off the field at halftime, she’s leading us, she’s picking us up. Even after she’s there to pick us up. Her leadership is amazing and her skill, obviously.”