Columbia High's girls soccer team made a long bus trip to Sumner Nov. 9 for its first-round match of the Class 2A tournament.
The Bruins stay in the tournament proved short, however, as the Nisqually League's Eatonville Cruisers sent the SW Washington League upstarts home carrying the baggage of a 7-0 defeat.
Eatonville built a 4-0 halftime lead, scoring its first goal in the ninth minute of play. Overall, the Cruisers outshot the Bruins, 29-1, and had a 12-0 advantage in corner kicks.
Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga, who called Eatonville "a quality club," said the Cruisers had the Bruins on the defensive early in the first half and, through solid teamwork, were able to exploit holes in CHS's field coverage.
In a word, Kasenga said the difference in the match was confidence.
"They stepped on the field ready to go to the next level and we stepped on the field wide-eyed and unsure of ourselves," she noted.
Leading 1-0, Eatonville tallied goals in the 19th, 25th and 40th minutes of the first half.
"It was very one-sided," Kasenga said of the first half of action. "Our confidence level really went down after the first two goals."
Injuries also hurt the Bruins' cause. Freshman midfielder Kaci Kreps was lost to a right ankle sprain midway through the first half and freshman midfielder Shannon McNallan sat out the second half because of a balky knee.
Kasenga turned to her bench and did her best to rally the team in the second half against imposing odds, but to no avail.
"It wasn't an awful game for us," she said. "It just wasn't one of our best."
Kasenga cited the defensive play of sophomore sweeper Chelsea Ludwig, the playmaking of freshman midfielder Mackenzie VanLaar and the competitiveness of freshman forward Johanna Zimbelman among CHS's highlights.
"Chelsea did a great job but she couldn't cover the whole field," her coach noted. "And we had some great attacks up the left side through Mackenzie."
Columbia's only shot in the match came off the foot of Zimbelman. Said Kasenga: "It was a shining moment for me because that one play showed how much Johanna had improved since the start of the season."
Overall, the team's playoff performance was an example of how far it came during its 11-8 season and how far it has to go to take its game to the next level of competition.
"We have the sense that we accomplished a lot in just our second season, but there's also the sense that we could have had a better result if we had come in more mentally prepared," Kasenga said.