In any other year, the Gonzaga Prep and Central Valley girls soccer teams should have qualified for state. Both squads boasted talent and veteran coaching staffs.
It’s obviously not a normal year.
The best the two teams could compete for was the East Region championship – the de facto Greater Spokane League title.
When the teams met on April 1, Grace Batkoff scored two goals, including the go-ahead goal in overtime, to help lift the Bullpups to a 3-2 win over the Bears in the championship game.
Batkoff’s game-winner was just a few minutes after CV’s Zoe Crockett scored her second of the night in the 75th minute to tie it up.
“It was kind of what you expect from certainly a playoff game and certainly, you know match up between us and Central Valley. It’s been a really good rivalry,” G-Prep Billy Barmes said. “The whole time I’ve been the coach of Prep, but particularly in the last couple of years, we’ve been able to compete at their level and go back and forth quite a bit.”
It was as even a game as it could be.
“Both teams had about a fair share of the possession,” Barmes said.
Junior Erin Ewars scored off a rebound about 20 minutes in, but G-Prep (8-2) was called for a hand ball two minutes later and Crockett buried the penalty kick.
“We were able to score off of a rebound goal and felt like that was kind of the momentum that we were looking for,” Barmes said. “It was just one of those unintentional, but certainly the right call for a penalty kick.”
Batkoff’s first goal came in the 58th minute off a feed from Kyah Le, but Crockett converted with just over five minutes left in regulation for CV (8-3).
“It was just very back and forth that neither team could really kind of get a hold of a long string of possession,” Barmes said.
After a couple of substitutions at the end of regulation, Barmes was left to scramble a bit with his lineup in overtime.
“It actually ended up being the combination of players and the places on the field that combined for the goal.”
Tess Keyes, a ninth grader, was playing defensive center midfield and intercepted a pass in the G-Prep end. She played it wide to junior Sammy Symmes, who in turn played a long ball down the sideline to senior Campbell Siebold.
Siebold found Batkoff streaking through the center of CV’s defense.
“She struck the ball first time – really hard,” Barmes said.
CV goalie Clair Kaufman got her hands on the shot, but it was struck so hard it carried into the net.
“It was a great combination play against the field in a hurry,” Barmes said. “And good to have in the first overtime so we didn’t have to wait out for a shootout, which no one likes to get a win that way.”
The two goals were Batkoff’s only two of the season.
“As a senior, to have that lasting memory … she’s normally in the defensive center mid position and so normally she’s kind of passing the ball off to the midfield or the forward. She doesn’t get a ton of goal-scoring opportunities.
“Right place at the right time and she finished with quality.”
So it wasn’t a state title, but winning the last game of the season means a lot regardless.
“We played for whatever they let us play for,” Barmes said. “We definitely hyped it up as something important.”
G-Prep finished third at state in 2019 and has won the past two District 8 championships.
“Our whole senior class has been a part of the growth that the program has made over the last three years and so to send them off with another GSL regular season title and then a little postseason thing, it was nice. It was a very good ending,” Barmes said.
Campbell Siebold, the team’s leading goal scorer, had a pair of assists.
“She’s just become such a dynamic and just dangerous force in our frontline over the last couple of years,” Barmes said. “She’s always been athletic, straight line speed.”
He challenged her to be more.
“Going into her junior year, I just kind of remember having a conversation with her,” Barmes said. “I said ‘If you want to from scoring seven goals to 17 goals, which is what you’re capable of, you need to start making these adjustments.”
“She really took those things and implemented them last year.”
Siebold had 17 goals in 23 games last season and eight goals with six assists in 10 games this season.
Barmes said he takes more satisfaction from an athlete’s progression than any type of title.
“We talked about this a lot,” he said. “League titles, the championships, even winning a single game – that’s an outcome. I really try to focus on the process that leads to the outcome.
“To see players rise to that occasion and to be coachable and to make adjustments in their game … it’s really great to watch. And then as a result of those things, I think, is where we’ve earned our championships and our accolades and results.”
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