Heading into the West Central District seeding game versus Jefferson, the Bellarmine Lady Lions were riding a wave of excitement with their great regular season stretch run that culminated with winning the Narrows League championship.
That euphoria was nearly an afterthought, with a nail-biting 4-3 win over the Raiders on Nov. 5 at Stadium Bowl as the win gave the Lions the West Central District’s top seed heading into the state tournament.
The one Jefferson player who gave Bellarmine the most trouble was Raiders striker Lindsey Dahl, who tallied two of their three goals and just missed a third, but was called on a push off in the 88th minute to nullify the tying goal.
Four different girls would tally goals for the Lions to give them a two-goal lead two different times in the game. Dani Nurmi scored in the second minute, Stephie Hamilton in the eighth, Lauren Fricke in the 20th and Hope Fleckner in the 50th.
“We were almost guilty of looking ahead to Puyallup but we found a way to pull it out in the end,” said Lions coach Joe Waters.
On to the first round of state and the Puyallup Vikings. Waters knew that his team would have to be markedly better in the back line and they were. In a game that would be dominated from start to finish, the Lions shut out Puyallup by a score of 3-0 without the Vikings mustering a meaningful shot on goal all night.
“Our backline was great tonight, they played quick and hard for all 80 minutes,” said Waters of his district champion team. Bellarmine missed a few chances to score in the first half but dented the scoreboard in the 44th minute when Kelsey Witker scored on a set piece with a beautiful bender from five yards beyond the arc for a 1-0 lead they would not relinquish.
“Jenna (Holtz) was going to take it but I saw an opening by the right post and hit it well for the goal, and our team did a great job of communicating tonight on both sides of the ball, it was a complete win” said Witker.
They put the capper on the night with a nifty one-touch goal by Kaylee Kebba in the 56th minute for a 2-0 lead. Dani Nurmi would finish the night’s scoring with a one-timer in front if the net from close range for the 3-0 lead which would propel the Lions into the quarterfinals on either Friday or Saturday night at Mount Tahoma Stadium against either Lake Stevens or a familiar foe in the South Kitsap Wolves.
“I can’t say enough of Kelsey’s effort tonight, she was strong,” said a jubilant Waters of one of his three senior captains. “It was a beautiful team effort.”
With the near shock of losing to ninth seeded Jefferson now in their rear view mirror, the Lions can try to build on this exceptional effort on Tuesday night for the rest of the state tournament.