Sunday, June 25, 2017 This Week's Paper

Tacoma Baptist Marching Toward Postseason Again

// McDonald, Slattery are unique additions

Take one look at the Tacoma Baptist soccer team this year on the field, and you will notice something different. With the Crusaders deciding against having a girls’ team for the second straight year because of low numbers, Becca McDonald and Bryanna Slattery accepted the open invitation to join the boys’ team.

“They’re very good club players,” said Tacoma Baptist head coach Josh Narayan of the duo, who both have made their way into the starting lineup and helped lead a 7-0 rout of Christian Faith on Oct. 16.

McDonald, a senior who also plays basketball and runs track, got the Crusaders on the board early by knocking a ball in off a cross from fellow forward Casey Slattery in the second minute. Two minutes later, McDonald returned the favor by sending a ball to the far post, and Slattery headed it home to quickly make it 2-0.

“We passed better than we have in a while (today),” McDonald said. “We all took a lot of shots, but a few went in. I think we worked well as a team.”

McDonald has stepped in and quickly helped offset the loss of SeaTac 2B League MVP Jake Zimmer – who is training with the Crossfire Academy and by rule is ineligible to play high school soccer – by leading the team with 14 goals to that point. Combining with Casey Slattery, who has 12 goals and a team-high 15 assists, the Crusaders’ formidable offensive attack has not been lacking. Brandon Turner made it 3-0 for the Crusaders with a strike from 20 yards out in the 12th minute, and top defender Austin Lutterloh – who recently returned from injury – made it 4-0 at the half by stealing a ball near midfield and sending a low shot through the left side.

Turner and Casey Slattery each picked up their second goal midway through the second half to salt it away for the Crusaders, who responded to their first loss of the season the day before to first-place Bear Creek. The win put the Crusaders at 9-1-1 overall on the year, as they are set to close the season on Oct. 24 at Puget Sound Adventist. With more competitive teams in the 2B playoff landscape this year, Narayan noted the road will be challenging when the postseason arrives.

“The parity of the teams this year (makes it) a lot harder,” he said. “Anybody can beat anybody, and we don’t have any undefeated teams.”

But with the added skill of players like McDonald and Bryanna Slattery in the fold, do not be surprised if the Crusaders make another deep run.

“We’re looking forward to going up against the big teams and surprising them,” McDonald said. “People are saying we aren’t going to do well, but we surprise people and it’s fun.”