by Jack Kintner
Girls win final season home game
A week ago today the heavens opened over Pipeline Fields, producing a deluge that could have floated Noah�s Ark while turning the carefully groomed fields into giant sponges. This left many on the girls� soccer team looking more like Gene Kelley singin� in the rain, only without the umbrella and weird hat. Even so, they managed the first of two shoot-out wins in a row in beating Lakewood 2-1 while being cheered on by the boys team that plays the other kind of football.
Blaine fell behind in the first half but tied the game early in the second on a Krista Francis goal. In the shoot-out, Andrea and sister Kimberly Harmening both knocked in goals, and then Francis kicked in the game winner. The 2-1 victory kept Blaine (9-3) in second place ahead of Sultan and behind South Whidbey.
Two days later, with the sun out where it belongs, Blaine traveled to Lynden Christian. The scrappy Lyncs are always tough for Blaine, who outshot the Christians 16-4 but still finished regulation 0-0.
Kimberly and Andrea Harmening and Jenna Makalai all sunk their shots in the shoot-out while Darly Bovenkamp was the lone Lync shooter to score. Officially, the game ended with a 1-nil Blaine win.
�They always play us tough,� said coach Dan Steelquist, �so this is a good win for us.� Blaine�s all-league senior goalie Shela Robertson notched her seventh shut-out this season as Blaine�s record improved to 10-3.
The final home game of the season was this past Tuesday as South Whidbey came to Blaine. They were without their impressive freshman midfielder Casey Kimmel (pulled hamstring) but brought everything else for a narrow 2-1 victory. The winning goal came with just a few seconds left in the second overtime period, dribbled in softly by standout South Whidbey forward Claudia Gill-Osario, whose father Dario played professional soccer in his native Bolivia. One imagines he must spend time kicking the ball around with his daughter.
The game was close, physical and tough the entire 90 minutes. �I never saw the [winning goal], really,� said Blaine�s goalie Shela Robertson, whose string of shut-outs ended with this game. �There were a lot of people right around the net,� she said, �but the first I saw the ball it was already at the back of the net.�
Earlier, Krista Francis tied the score 1-1 on a header from Andrea Harmening. Blaine matched South Whidbey�s speed and savvy style of play that saw yellow cards go to players on both sides. Toward the end, Whidbey began to slow down dramatically, showing the effects of playing on a regulation field. A normal soccer field is 75 yards wide, and though the Pipeline Fields are a little narrower at 72 yards, South Whidbey plays on a 50-yard wide football field at home.
�We like to play a wider game,� said Steelquist, �but you know, even though we lost, it was a great high school girl�s game, competitive and close. I was proud of the way our team played.�
At 10-4, Blaine dropped into a tie with the Sultan Turks for second place with just two games left. The girls play Mt. Baker this evening at 6 p.m. at the Northwest Soccer Fields on Smith and Northwest Roads, and travel to Granite Falls next Tuesday for a 5:30 p.m. game.
Blaine is unlikely to break the tie, and will most likely have a playoff with Sultan on the 30th. Six NCC teams move on to the district playoffs in Mount Vernon, and the top three go on to Lakewood of Tacoma for the state tourney on the weekend of November 21 and 22.
Borderites struggle against top two teams
�We ran into the best team in the state,� said coach Dave Fakkema, �but our kids didn�t give up.�
That about sums up the story as Blaine played the two best teams in the North Cascades Conference back to back, losing by a combined score of 145-0. And yet the team continues to plug along, knowing their turn is coming.
In addition to Mike Poitras and Mark Anello, senior running back Brian McCall suffered a concussion in the Mt. Baker game October 10 and has not returned to the active roster. So the Borderites faced No. 1 ranked Meridian without three of their primary offensive weapons.
Meridian, on the other hand, brought a small squad but rolled up impressive numbers. Senior running back Cody Bowden scored three of the five times he carried the ball. Meridian rolled up 341 yards total offense to Blaine�s 22.
Quarterbacks Nick Jordan and Bryan Galbraith shared signal calling. Fakkema said that he wanted to get Galbraith some time over center, �and he�s a team leader, a good solid guy, so we want him out there, too.�
Blaine has three football games left this season, playing Nooksack at home tomorrow night, at Lakewood on Halloween, and back at home against Sultan on November 7.
Dominique Walter joins cross country team
�It�s a girl!� cross country coach Carey Bacon could be heard to say as he welcomed sophomore Dominique Walter, 16, a transfer student from San Diego who came to Blaine just two weeks ago and promptly joined the girl�s cross-country team.
In fact, she is the girl�s team. Her time of 21:42 was just one second off a top 10 finish in last week�s Borderline Invitational meet held at Berthusen Park in a rainstorm of truly biblical proportions.
The boys side placed seventh out of nine teams, top times being posted by Beau Craig at 19:55, Stephen Fraser at 19:59, Josh Ecklund at 20:29, Kevin Teng at 21:46 and Curtis Richardson at 21:55.
The Borderites made the long trek to Sultan last week and came away with a solid 3-0 win, outscoring the Turks 25-15, 25-12 and 25-17.
�We were able to get some of our non-starters some playing time,� said coach Muriel Ridnour, �which is good because it gives them a feel for playing at the varsity level.� The win gives Blaine a winning 3-2 record on the season thus far.
Individually, Jess Freeman led in assists with 20 and had one ace, Jessica Summers got 10 kills and seven aces, Amanda Stull six kills and one ace, Alisa Burk four kills, Jen Kramer three kills and one ace, Krissie Hammer two aces and sophomore outside hitter Kara Stull one ace.
Mt. Baker came to town last Tuesday night and the Borderite�s game seemed to flatten at just the wrong times in a tough 3-1 loss, with game scores of 14-25, 25-23, 13-25 and 19-25. Jess Freeman again led in assists with 21, Jess Summers had eight kills and four aces, and Amanda Stull had four kills and two aces.
The team plays at Meridian next Tuesday night at 7 before returning home a week from tonight for its final game of the season against Granite Falls.
District playoffs begin the following week.
Slivers from the bench
Three teams plan to leave the North Cascades Conference (NCC) this next year (2004-2005 season) over issues of travel time and expense. Granite Falls, South Whidbey and Sultan will pull out next year to eliminate the two or more hours on the road each way required to travel to many of the Whatcom County schools. According to Blaine athletic director Gary Clausen, playoffs won�t change much since all the teams will still be in the northwest district.
Blaine high school soccer coach Dan Steelquist won�t be coaching the boys team next spring, and the position has been posted by the school district. �I�ve got a boy coming up who will be playing,� Steelquist quipped, �and I wanna be a soccer dad, not a coach.�
The Seattle Supersonics will be holding a free open practice tonight at Western Washington University�s Carver Gym (no, it doesn�t mean you get to play, too) at 6 p.m. Point guard Luke Ridnour, cleared to play last week, will be there to participate in drills and the scrimmage that follows. Admission is free, but the popular visits by the Seattle club can fill up fast, so allow plenty of time to park. For another chance to see Ridnour under game conditions, check with the Blaine Boys and Girls Club. They�re sponsoring a trip (as a fundraiser) to Key Arena next month to see the Sonics in a regular home game.