Gonzaga Prep girls soccer coach Christian Birrer wasn’t surprised by the dominance of Greater Spokane League teams in Saturday’s 4A Regional playoffs.
But he was impressed, nonetheless.
“It was just a terrific day for the GSL,” said Birrer, whose district champion Bullpups (15-2) shut down Davis 2-0 to earn one of the three state tournament berths that went to GSL schools. “I can’t remember the last time we had three teams go to state like this.
“Usually, there’s at least one (Columbia Basin) Big Nine team that makes it.”
That won’t be the case this year, however, thanks to the GSL’s sweep of the CBBN on Saturday, with Central Valley (12-4) edging Moses Lake 1-0 and Mead (14-3) blanking Richland 1-0.
“Based on seeing how well Mead has been playing of late, and how much talent CV has, it didn’t really come as a big surprise,” Birrer said of the rare sweep. “You kind of felt the GSL teams would be favored in all three games, but it was still a tremendous weekend for us.”
G-Prep’s win earned the Bullpups the right to host Tahoma on the Bullpups’ home field on Wednesday at 6 p.m., with CV and Mead facing off at Joe Albi Stadium at 6 that night.
And a fourth GSL school, Mt. Spokane (10-7) – which edged conference rival University 2-1 in Saturday’s Regional final – will open State 3A competition tonight with a first-round matchup against Kamiakin that kicks off at 6 at Lampson Stadium in Kennewick.
G-Prep, ranked sixth among 4A schools in the Seattle Times’ latest prep soccer ratings, heads into the state tournament on a nice roll, having won six in a row since suffering its only GSL loss by a lopsided 6-0 margin to CV back in early October.
The Bullpups’ starting goalkeeper, senior Christie Tombari, missed that game because of a concussion, but Birrer is quick to point out that Tombari’s absence had nothing to do with the outcome.
“Our other two goalkeepers (juniors Rachel Ryan and Claire Cozza) would probably start for most GSL schools. That’s one position we’re very deep at,” Birrer explained. “But we could have had a professional in goal against CV, and it probably wouldn’t have mattered.
“They just beat us fair and square.”
The Bullpups avenged that regular-season loss with a 2-1 win over the Bears in the district title game, and seem to be peaking at the perfect time behind the play of senior forward Jessica Bennett and sophomore midfielder Colleen Lindsay, who has scored a team-high 14 goals.
Still, Birrer expects his team to have its hands full against a Tahoma team he calls “a monster first-round opponent” that was the State 4A runnerup last year.
“They have a lot of veteran state players on their team,” Birrer said of the fourth-ranked Bears, “including one of the top offensive players in the state in Brie Hook. She is pure speed, strength and agility, and she’s going to be a difficult challenge.
“But there’s never an easy game once you get to state.”
In other state tournament games involving area schools on Wednesday, East Valley entertains Prosser and Pullman (15-5) travels to Yakima to face West Valley in 2A first-round showdowns. Both start at 5 p.m.
In the 1A tournament, Newport (17-2) entertains Kiona-Benton at 5 p.m., and Lakeside (9-7) plays at La Salle at 6.
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