2B Girls Soccer Preview: Adna Ready for State Opener Against La Conner
By Matt Baide
The Adna Pirates are back into the State 2B girls soccer tournament for the fourth year in a row, and will open the tournament on Saturday at 4 p.m. against La Conner at Tiger Stadium in Centralia.
La Conner was 10-5 overall this season and is the No. 2 seed out of District 1 after falling to Friday Harbor 4-3 in a shootout in the District Championship game.
“We’re hoping to maybe at least see their other opponent (Friday Harbor) play against Life Christian so we can get an idea of how they play also, because they were in a shootout themselves,” Adna coach Juli Aselton said. “Obviously, they’ve been scored on so we know that they can be scored on, but they also have a good forward, we believe, a senior (Emma Lee) that’s been scoring all their goals. We are going to be trying to pinpoint some of that but basically just cleaning up our game.”
Also for the fourth straight time, the Lady Pirates won the district championship. This time, though, Adna had to come from behind and win in dramatic fashion in a shootout.
Adna would like to avoid that situation on Saturday.
“They were all working hard, we just were letting people slip through, so today we worked on the 3-on-4 against our defense, talking about having someone always covering up back so you never have someone on your own back there,” Aselton said. “I think the girls are really working on that. They want to tighten that down and get to the ball first.”
The Pirates are dealing with a few injuries, including to senior defensive back Abigail Kruger, who missed the Life Christian game. Aselton said she expects to have a full lineup back, but will be monitoring some of her players — including Kruger — heading into the weekend.
But having been through this situation before, there should be no surprises in preparation for the Pirates. That includes plenty of time for rest and recovery.
“We’re taking tomorrow off because the girls have worked hard and we need their bodies to recover for another hard game, with it getting muddy, and we don’t want anyone injured in between,” Aselton said. “We’re just practicing the same things — cleaning up our defense, cleaning up our penalty shots because we know a lot of things go to penalty shots and then just trying to get some turf time in between so we can stay dry and get some practice on that.”
Adna played both of its district games at Tiger Stadium, and will practice on the turf a couple times before Saturday to become even more acquainted with the field. Aselton hopes their experience and familiarity with the stadium will help them.
“It is very helpful that we feel more comfortable on that field for sure and getting a couple practices in are real helpful being on the turf,” Aselton said. “I’m not sure how much La Conner’s been on turf, but again, they’re having to travel. Even with the districts being on there the last couple years, it does give us that benefit of knowing the field a little bit better.”
The Pirates have made the state semifinals four years running, and the goal hasn’t changed.
“Our goal is to get to the same spot we were the year before. We obviously would like to get farther, but it’s one game at a time and we feel good about each success that we have because every year,” Aselton said. “Our team is a little bit different so we can’t expect to be in the same place but that’s our goal. The big stressor would be getting this win on Saturday so we can go to the final four, then it’s yes, of course we want to win more, but we’ve gotten as far as we have before so that’s a good goal to have.”
The Pirates have won games by four goals, lost to a tight regular-season game to Ocosta and then beaten the Wildcats in the playoffs, and come back from a three-goal deficit to win a game. And just like this season, the Pirates aren’t sure what to expect on Saturday, but they will come out fighting.
“Well, I expect it to be cold and wet, so that will be something we’ll have to work on to make sure the ball isn’t skipping around. That’s always a fear when the ball is wet that it will skip past the defense or the keeper,” Aselton said. “We’ll be working on that and trying to play forward more than defense, trying to put the pressure on so they’re more on the defensive end is always our goal.
“Sometimes that doesn’t happen and it takes us a bit to get there,” she added, “but again, just keeping our heads up like we did this last game and knowing one goal at a time and if we’re down at halftime, that’s OK. We’re still going to work together to get ourselves to the win.”