King’s advances to state semifinals

By David Pan, Edmonds Beacon | Nov 18, 2016

King’s has another opportunity to win its first ever state girls soccer championship this weekend.

The Knights dispatched Cascade Christian 4-0 in a 1A quarterfinal game Saturday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.

King’s plays Overlake in a semifinal game at 2 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18 at Shoreline Stadium. The Knights edged the Owls 1-0 in the Bi-District championship contest on Nov. 5.

If King’s defeats Overlake, then the Knights would face the winner of Cascade (Leavenworth) or La Salle in the state title game at 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at Shoreline Stadium. The losers face off in the third/fourth place contest at 10 a.m.

This will be King’s sixth straight semifinal appearance and the Knights have finished second at state the last two years.

“They’re very hungry to play in that championship game,” King’s coach Nicole Gaberlein said of her players. “They know they have a tough game coming up on Friday. They take this game very seriously. You can’t think ahead.”

The Knights’ offense came out firing early in its quarterfinal match-up. Sophomore Callie Wright scored in the 11th minute and was followed by junior Katie Stella, who had goals in the 20th and 24th minute. Sophomore Jamesen Ward capped off the game with a goal in the 46th minute.

“The kids are really connecting well,” Gaberlein said. “They came out with really high energy.”

The midfield and the forwards, in particular, were in sync.

“The passes were right on target, right on pace,” Gaberlein said. “That was something we’ve been really working on.”

King’s (18-1-2) has outscored its opposition 18-0 in the postseason. The Knights have scored four or more goals in every playoff game except for its 1-0 win over semifinal opponent Overlake.

The King’s defense is led by Cascade Conference defender of the year Nicole Jacobson, along with Hannah and Abbi Echelbarger.

“It’s a close knit defensive group,” Gaberlein said. “We’ve worked on it a lot during the season. … They practice hard and practice high pressure defense.”

The Bi-District title clash against Overlake was King’s most challenging contest of the year.

Gaberlein is making some changes to give the Owls a little bit different look the second time around.

“They’re a fantastic team,” she said. “We’re looking forward to playing them again. The girls are showing up at practice with enthusiasm and high energy.”

Overlake pushed hard against King’s to start the second half and during the last 10 minutes of the game.

“We had some breakdowns,” Gaberlein said. “We’ve corrected them.”

The Knights opened the state tournament with a 4-0 victory over Vashon Island Nov. 9 at Woolsey Stadium. Sophomore Sarah Nielsen scored two goals and Wright and Hannah Echelbarger each had a goal.

King’s led 1-0 at halftime. Nielsen’s second goal early in the second half seemed to ignite the Knights’ offense.

“We connected passes really well,” Echelbarger said. “We definitely played a lot more intense in the second half and we went for the ball and communicated a lot better too.”

Gaberlein noticed the Knights seemed a little nervous in the first half.

“We talked about it,” Gaberlein said. “The girls rallied around each other in the second half. They came on playing like we’re used to seeing them play the last 19 games.”