TACOMA — Standing just a few feet away from the Mount Tahoma Stadium grandstand and a large group of La Center girls soccer team supporters, Wildcats senior Shaela Bradley took a moment to soak in the program’s accomplishments this season.
No. 5 seed La Center fell to No. 6 Montesano 3-1 in the Class 1A third-place match Saturday. Though the Wildcats’ season ended with two defeats in as many days, they were the first La Center team to reach the girls soccer state final four.
Prior to this season, in fact, the program hadn’t won a state playoff game. To be the team that made history wasn’t lost on players like Bradley.
“I think it really does mean the world,” Bradley said, “just to be the group that made it the farthest is an incredible thing to even accomplish. I think that’s how we all feel about it.”
After going without a goal in Friday’s loss to Klahowya, the Wildcats (18-4) faced another scoreless deficit after Montesano’s Addison Potts scored the first goal in the 28th minute and Mackenzie Isaak added two goals four minutes apart midway through the second half.
Still, the Wildcats were proud of the effort they played with until the end. In the 73rd minute, it paid off with a goal scored by Bradley, the Rutgers signee’s fifth of the state playoffs, and 137th career goal with the Wildcats.
Minutes later, La Center nearly added another goal from a Madisen Newbury shot on target, but the ball bounced off the post and out.
“Honestly, we were all just connected as a whole,” Bradley said. “We were all trying our best … I wouldn’t say we’re not trying our best (in) past years, but today, we were in sync and going with it. I think those two things just really helped with our success.”
Seven seniors will graduate from La Center’s roster, Bradley included. But after the most successful season in program history, the Wildcats are hopeful it leads to more interest in soccer at the 1A school.
“I hope more girls at La Center start playing soccer. That would be great,” Bradley said. “I know we lose a lot to volleyball. I would love it if a few more came and played soccer. Just keep building the program up, if others come in to play.”