Sports -- September 29, 2005

Published on Thu, Sep 29, 2005
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SPORTS
by Jack Kintner

Blaine defense showing power

Blaine showed some impressive defensive stopping power last week on the road against Meridian even though they lost another frustrating contest 19-8. After a start that began to look as one-sided as Meridian-Blaine football games have in the past, Blaine’s defense stiffened after spotting the Trojans’ two touchdowns on their first two offensive drives.
Joey Paciorek stopped the third Trojan drive with an interception on Blaine’s two yard line although Blaine’s sometimes explosive offense was held from scoring until the third quarter, when Rob Bleecker returned a Meridian kickoff almost to midfield. Nick Jordan ran the offense with Paciorek moving to receiver for a few plays, but Paciorek ultimately scored on an option out of the shotgun on a fourth-and-goal at the Meridian nine yard line.

Despite some decent rushing by Blayne Brandenberger (8 carries for 43 yards), Adam Dykstra (4-20) and Michael Poitras (6-13), Blaine generated only 190 yards of total offense, 81 of it through the air. Trojan quarterback Tyler Slesk passed for 204 yards. It must be said, however, that any Blaine team that keeps Meridian below 20 points deserves a pat on the back for an evening of hard work well done.

Blaine takes on the formidable Mounties of Deming’s Mt. Baker high school this Friday at 7:30 at home, followed by the homecoming game next week (October 7) against Granite Falls.

Runners come in 2nd, 3rd

Blaine cross country coach Carey Bacon has had a bumper crop of runners come out this year. Last week at Meridian the results show that the team’s becoming competitive as a group, with a close third place finish for the girls and a second for the boys behind Meridian.

Blaine junior Stephen Fraser was Blaine’s top finisher with a fourth place despite fighting a lingering cold. The best for the girls was Blaine freshmen Sarah Point-Moore, who finished eighth.

Team scores were Meridian 33, Blaine 45 and Mt. Baker 51 for the boys, and Mt. Baker 35, Meridian 41 and Blaine 52 for the girls. The course, a long loop around Meridian’s athletic fields, was flat and fast and the weather was sunny and cool.

“We’re pleased with the turnout and how competitive this team is becoming,” said Bacon, now in his eighth season coaching the cross country squad. His numbers are way up. Two years ago Dominique Walter went to the state finals but was the only girl on the team. This year he’s got a dozen, a promising runner in Sarah Point-Moore and a number of others as well. The top five Blaine finishers at Meridian were all freshmen and sophomores.

For the boys, 26 runners stepped up to the line at Meridian, three of them finishing in the top 10. Along with Fraser’s fourth place, sophomore Caleb Baron finished sixth and senior Ryan Shockey finished 10th.

Blaine’s next meet is this Saturday, October 1, at the Mt. Baker Invitational at Silver Lake State Park, where the racing begins at 9:30 and lasts into the afternoon. Blaine’s starts for the three mile course include freshmen boys at 10:50 a.m., JV girls at 11:20 a.m., JV boys at 11:55 a.m., varsity girls at 12:30 p.m. and varsity boys at 1:05 p.m.

Lady B’s beat Lakewood 3 - 2

The Lady B’s defeated Lakewood 3-2 last Saturday at the Pipe on a goal scored in the 54th second of overtime by junior forward Alyssa Hendrickson, avenging an earlier one-goal loss last September 6 at Lakewood and improving the Lady B’s season record to 3-4.

Freshman midfielder Bailey Richardson scored both goals in regulation time with a kick that could kill seagulls. Hendrickson, hustling from the get-go in overtime, went after the winning goal with single-minded focus, evading a lone defender before nailing the winner over the faked-out Lakewood keeper.

This latest win followed a tough loss to Meridian four days earlier in which the Borderites came back from a 0-2 half-time deficit with three second half goals against the undefeated league-leading Trojans, only to see the lead slip away on a late penalty kick and then the expected win on a tie-breaking shootout, a necessary evil that’s more luck than skill. It hopefully won’t survive the league re-alignment next year as other schools outside the Whatcom County AA league have largely abandoned the practice.

Though frustrated, Lady B’s made a clear statement in the Meridian game, coming back with poise and determination on a team of veterans that’s still undefeated in league play.

In last Saturday’s game, played on a cool but sunny day at the Pipe, Lakewood’s defensive strategy was your basic pack-the-box, hoping to block shots with a superfluity of legs. They loaded their end with defenders, clogging up the middle against the faster and more agile Borderites, forcing them to go east and west - side to side - for openings.
But Blaine wore them down, thanks in part to a new set in the line-up Steelquist described later as more suited to the style of players he has, quick and alert, with good team speed. “We went to three backs and a central mid instead of four backs, which gives us a 3-4-2 line-up,” he explained, “which makes for a looser and more creative game, because your mids have to come back to defend but you have more forward to press.”

The offensive strategy began to pay off as the first half went on, Blaine’s greater speed and finesse eventually opening up lanes for the shooters as the Lakewood girls began to run out of breath. Blaine, if anything, seemed to get stronger as play went on, peppering an exhausted Lakewood with half a dozen shots on goal that barely missed, to the ooo’s and aaah’s of the crowd. But none went in, and at the half the score stood at 0-0.

Lakewood broke the ice six minutes into the second half when an obvious Blaine defensive lapse let a high arching pass sail across the field to an un-marked Lakewood striker. With no one else within 10 yards she pounded the ball past Blaine’s hustling keeper Janell Gobbato, who had no chance to stop it. It didn’t deflate Blaine so much as wake the team up.

Five minutes later, after Blaine made several thrusts up the left side, midfielder Bailey Richardson let loose with a cannon from about five yards outside the penalty box that grazed a Lakewood player before getting buried in the back of the net. Though technically an own goal, the Lakewood defender never saw the ball nor did she alter its course more than a few inches. “I’ve seen her do that in practice,” said a pleased coach Dan Steelquist later, “bouncing it off who or whatever’s in the way.”

After a Blaine foul Lakewood went up 2-1 in the 18th minute on a free kick, but Blaine was awarded a free kick of its own in the final minute of regulation play. Richardson took aim and fired it straight into the goal like she was shooting ducks with a .44, going just over the assembled blocking wall of players and neatly inside the upper right corner so hard it nearly lifted the goal off the lawn.

That tied the score at 2-all and sent the game into overtime, setting up Hendrickson’s quick and killing goal less than a minute into the first overtime.

The girls played Lynden Christian on the road Tuesday afternoon and face Nooksack at the Pipe today, September 29, Thursday afternoon, at 4:30.

Blaine takes a wild one from LC

For the second game in a row, junior forward Alyssa Hendrickson scored the game winning goal in overtime as the Lady B’s shocked the Lynden Christian Lyncs with a wild 7-6 victory on their home field last Tuesday afternoon.

The walk-off game winner came with seconds left. “The ref was just about to blow the whistle to end the [second] overtime,” said Hendrickson, “when Bailey [Richardson] sent her corner kick right to me.” Hendrickson captured the ball with her chest as the LC keeper came out to handle it, but she missed with her grab “so I poked it in around her,” Hendrickson said.

Blaine hasn’t won at Lynden Christian for some time, so this one “felt really good,” Hendrickson said, taking a game away from a well-supported LC team in overtime on their field.

Blaine’s front four proved to be too much for LC as both teams came away with their defense scratching heads as the offense thundered away on both ends. LC scored first four minutes into the game, then Brianna Olason evened the game at 11 minutes. Hendrickson scored twice, at 16 and 22 minutes, before LC answered at 24 minutes.

Olason scored for the second time at 30 minutes, and LC scored again at 32 to cut Blaine’s lead to one at 4-3. LC scored again 7 minutes into the second half to tie the game at four, then again at 12 minutes to go ahead. Wren Baldwin scored at the 20 minute mark to tie it at five, then LC went ahead again at 27 minutes, and finally Richardson scored in the 30th minute to again tie the game at 6, setting up Hendrickson’s second chance in as many games to win it in overtime.

“I knew we had to get it done or go back to a shoot[out],” Hendrickson said. “I think we’re more of an attacking team, and so we went for it.”
The win evens Blaine’s record at 44, 2-3 in league.