If you have to play a first-round state tournament playoff game in subfreezing temperatures, you might as well play it against a heated rival.
In the fifth meeting between the Great Northern League teams, West Valley (13-4) knocked off archrival East Valley 1-0 Wednesday night at Gonzaga Prep.
The victory sends West Valley into the State 2A quarterfinals Saturday against Ephrata, a 3-1 winner over Fife in a first-round match Wednesday. Game time will be determined today.
The game was scheduled to be played at East Valley, but it was shifted to G-Prep early Wednesday because of frozen conditions. The temperature at kickoff was in the mid-20s.
“I wasn’t happy that we had to play them for the fifth time – you get to the state tournament you’d kind of like to play someone from somewhere else in the state,” West Valley coach Shelli Totton-Peterson said. “And it was frustrating to have the site change at the last minute like that.”
The change from frozen grass to the artificial turf at G-Prep worked to the Eagles’ advantage. Team speed, combined with strong play in goal by junior Rachel McGlothlen, gave the regular-season GNL champions the edge.
Rylee McConnell drilled a shot off the crossbar and into goal from 20 yards out with a minute left in the first half for the game’s only goal in the 39th minute of the first half.
“We had a corner kick and my sister, Abby, fed me the ball,” McConnell said. “It was so cold that it almost hurt to kick the ball.”
East Valley (14-4) had won the last three meetings between the teams, including the District 7 championship match last week, roaring back from a 1-0 deficit to win 3-1.
The Knights’ stout defense was tested by West Valley’s speed.
“I think our speed was more of an advantage here,” McConnell said. “I don’t know if it was the game being faster or adrenaline, but we were shooting the ball high in the beginning.
McGlothlen helped with some timely saves early, coming out of goal to snuff several early East Valley breakaways, and making a timely save on a Knights set piece late in the second half.
“I was screened and didn’t see the ball until it was almost too late and I got a hand on the ball,” she said.
“When you play someone as many times as we’ve played East Valley, there really are no surprises,” Totton-Peterson said. “We’re excited to get the chance to play someone new. We’re going to Ephrata.”
Natalie Nenno, Callie Best and Jocelyn Cook-Cox each had a goal and an assist, and host Lakeside defeated Connell 4-1 in a playoff game at Nine Mile Falls. Lakeside (14-3) advances to the quarterfinals and will host Naches Valley at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Lakeside is playing in its fifth straight State 1A tournament. This is the first time in four seasons that Lakeside has advanced past the first round of the tournament.
• Freeman (12-5) was eliminated from the tournament, losing 8-0 at Naches Valley.
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