For the third time in program history, Community Colleges of Spokane won the Northwest Athletic Conference women’s soccer championship.
The Sasquatch defeated Clark College 3-2 on Nov. 13 at Starfire Stadium in Tukwila, Washington.
It is CCS’ fourth title overall since 1990 and third NWAC title (2006, 2015), which includes winning a Northwest Collegiate Soccer Conference title in 1992.
It wasn’t a clean road to the title, though, as CCS had to craft multiple comeback bids. But sophomore captain Ryan Griep said the team had absolutely no doubts .
“I know almost every other team around us, they doubted us,” Griep said. “They thought we were going to be a cakewalk.”
The Sasquatch beat Chemeketa 2-1 in the opening round before a chaotic second-round match against reigning champs Peninsula.
CCS trailed 2-0 in the 38th minute before a furious comeback in the second half followed with goals from Alexa Deatherage and Lizbeth Soto.
A 5-4 victory in the penalty shootout knocked out the champs.
It helped that CCS had gone up 3-0 in a preseason matchup against Peninsula – before conceding that lead – so the Sasquatch knew they had the prowess to score against the Pirates.
The Sasquatch dispatched Lower Columbia 4-1 in the semifinals.
Their comeback experience translated nicely to the finals against Clark when CCS again found itself staring down a 2-0 deficit right before the halftime whistle.
First-year CCS head coach Daniel Philip knew the confidence gained from the Peninsula game would translate to the finals, especially knowing how his team has responded to deficits all season.
A Madison Carr header, assisted by a Peyton Bastine corner kick, awoke CCS from a 45-minute slumber.
Still down 2-1, a self-titled rousing halftime speech from Griep elevated the Sasquatch’s second half to a different level, enough for CCS to add another championship.
“I will say, I gave an absolutely stellar halftime speech, kind of get everybody in their emotions and kind of remind people why we’re there,” Griep said.
The speech was just a quick recap of how and why the Sasquatch were in the finals.
“The thing that got us through it was yes, the experience, but also our love for one another,” Griep said. “We had insane team chemistry this year. I’ve never seen it like that before where you actually play for the person next to you.”
Less than 2 minutes after halftime, Soto found Deatherage for her third goal of the weekend and the game-tying goal.
Ten minutes later, in the 57th minute, Ellie Johnson found the back of the net for a 3-2 CCS lead, which it never gave up
CCS boasted a sophomore-laden roster.
Even though a few last-minute transfers took some players off the roster, the Sasquatch still had a couple of super sophomores due to COVID on top of their standard sophomores.
Goalkeeper Kiah Gary and defender Bastine were the former; midfielders Griep and Deatherage and defender Francesa Longo were the latter.
Six other sophomores were on the roster, but the five listed above were selected as NWAC all-stars in the East Region. Longo was an honorable mention to the team, but Griep thought she was robbed for not being on the first team.
“I’m glad she got some sort of recognition because she has been a very huge aspect of our team, especially on the defensive line,” Griep said. “She ’s so fast, but also very composed. She doesn’t ever look frantic, and she just makes the best pass possible. And she’s also the kindest person I’ve ever met in my entire life.”
Gary was strong in goal all season, but Griep noticed it even more toward the end of the season as her communication amped up and she kept the Sasquatch organized from the back.
“This year she continued to build off of how we ended last season, which was just making sure we had composure in the back and just really putting her body on the line,” Griep said.
Griep and Bastine have known each other since kindergarten and have remained close, playing soccer together at University High School.
“She’s just an absolute stud,” Griep said. “Continuing on and playing college soccer with her was honestly a dream come true because she is just a tank on the field. It was no doubt to anybody (that she was an all-star), not our team, not to any other team just because of how well she does work and the effort she leaves on the field.”
Deatherage – the championship MVP and North Central High School grad – and Griep went head-to-head a lot in high school. Griep loathed playing Deatherage because she matched her intensity and voice on the field.
“She would kind of keep me in check, almost kind of shove it right back down my throat,” Griep said. “But she has turned into one of my best friends and I absolutely love playing with her. She works so incredibly hard, and she has a killer left foot even though she’s right-footed, so that’s crazy.”
Philip focused more on the team’s soccer abilities than building chemistry. For community colleges, there is usually so much turnover that building relationships isn’t a given.
“Everybody wanted to win, and we all got along with each other,” Griep said. “So, the only thing that our coach had to really focus on was just the soccer aspect and he did an absolutely wonderful job of that.”
From the start, CCS made a statement. It never lost points two games in a row, and it entered the postseason at 15-2-1, which included two five-game winning streaks.
An inspiring preseason included a win over the College of Idaho and a 1-0 home win over North Idaho in an East Region opener jump-started a championship season.
“After that, we just kind of built and just kept trying to win as many games possible,” Philip said.
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