Mountain View struck first.
Prairie struck back.
And Class 3A Greater St. Helens League girls soccer struck an exciting tone in the opening match of the league season on Monday.
Prairie and Mountain View fought to a 2-2 draw that sets the stage for a competitive campaign this fall.
The defending league champion Thunder scored twice in the first 10 minutes. Teaghan Irvin and Lauryn Krith delivered the one-two combo.
But it wasn’t a knockout blow for the host Falcons, which have league title aspirations of their own. Mya Toguchi scored in the 13th minute, then Emma High’s long free kick arced over Mountain View’s goalkeeper with six minutes left in the half.
Both teams had multiple scoring chances in the second half and 10-minute overtime. But a draw had both head coaches praising the effort of their team and their opponents.
“It was a well-fought match,” Mountain View coach Dustin Johnson said. “I thought that Prairie was up to the task. It was nice to get those first two. We obviously continued to battle and so did they.”
Prairie coach Ryan Glaser was impressed by what he saw from his team after falling in an early two-goal hole.
“For them to dig down and just keep battling, it means the world to the coaching staff,” Glaser said. “It shows the character of these girls that they want to go out and play for each other.”
With both Mountain View and Prairie returning a core of talented players, it’s no surprise that skill and fortitude were on display from both sides Monday.
Mountain View is powered by four returning first-team all-leaguers — Seniors Olivia Sweet and Audrey Dizon anchor the midfield while Krith, a senior, pairs with Irvin, a sophomore, in the attack.
“In terms of seniors, I always tell them ‘it’s your year and you make it what you want it,’” Johnson said. “I expect hard work and dedication in the games we play. That’s what they’ve given so far.”
With a goal of a second straight state tournament berth, Johnson set a tough non-league schedule. The Thunder (0-2-2) went on the road to face reigning 3A state champion Bellevue, then hosted 4A state qualifier Rogers-Puyallup.
Though both were losses for Mountain View, the experience of facing tough teams was the objective.
“I try to set up a very tough preseason to prepare them for league,” Johnson said. “Hopefully that sets us up for a successful season.”
Prairie last reached the state playoffs in 2018, when the Falcons finished fourth.
Senior Maddie Thorsen, a first-team all-leaguer, is the team’s engine in the midfield. She scored four goals in the Falcons’ season-opening 8-0 win against Capital on Saturday.
“She’s the leader on and off the pitch,” Glaser said of Thorsen. “Teams are going to pick her up pretty quick. Double and triple teams don’t seem to faze her much. She brings the intensity every game.”
Toguchi, a sophomore, has two goals and three assists in two games. High, a defender, a goalkeeper Lille Amies are both seniors who were second-team all-league last year.
If Monday’s match is any indication, the chase for the 3A GSHL title is going to be close and intense. Kelso came within one match of reaching last year’s state tournament. Evergreen returns the league MVP in senior forward Adrianne Agbayani.
“This league is going to be fantastic,” Glaser said. “I can’t wait to play Mountain View again. It’s always a battle. Kelso is going to be there as well. … I’m looking forward to the battle this year.”