TUMWATER — When Presley Smith stepped up to take Adna’s best chance to score — a free kick in the 65th minute in a scoreless deadlock with Cle Elum-Roslyn — the only thing the senior could think was, “Please, don’t mess it up.”
If you happened to be watching on the drizzly night at Tumwater High School, you wouldn’t have even thought she ever doubted herself.
The Pirates captain took a few steps, and drilled a free kick to the top left corner, past the reach of the Warriors’ keeper, putting them ahead. After holding on the rest of the way, the Pirates left Tumwater winners in the opening round of the state tournament.
“Don’t shoot it over, or don’t whiff it or something like that,” Smith recalled thinking before the game-winning kick. “I knew I had it. I celebrated before it even went in, I knew it was going in.”
The win means the Pirates will take on No. 1 Okanogan, coming off a bye, in the state quarterfinals on Saturday.
It very nearly could have been Adna’s final game of the season, however. The Pirates took a bit to get warmed up, and really struggled in the final third after controlling possession for most of the game. At halftime, the Pirates knew what they needed to do to keep playing.
“We realized that we are a team and we need to play with our hearts because this possibly was our last game,” Smith said. “We realized we need to get our act together and we need to give it all we have.”
Playing with a newfound energy and spirit that may have been lacking in the first half, the Pirates ramped up their assault before Smith finally broke through on her set piece goal.
“Set pieces can win games for you, you have to take them seriously,” Pirates coach Horst Malunat said. “That set piece goal was really nice, that’s the second one that Presley has made like that. It was perfect.”
But despite struggling in that final third at times, the Pirates were incredibly stout all over the rest of the field. Led by senior captain Madi Stark, the defense limited the Warriors shots on goal and cleared almost everything that came their way.
“They were amazing, Madi Stark, she is the heart and soul of our defense,” Smith said. “I don’t think without her we would be able to do what we have this season. She is what has kept us in many of these games with telling people where to go and being that sweeper in the back and getting everything out. I’m so proud of her.”
With that opening round win, now the Pirates have a tall task ahead of them. The first-seed Bulldogs ran through their conference, and beat No. 5 Toledo 4-0 last month in a neutral site game. If Adna hopes to have any shot against Okanogan, it’ll have to play as well as it did Wednesday night in the second half.
“I like our underdog status, there’s no pressure on us, it’s on them,” Malunat said. “Soccer is a weird game, the better team doesn't always win, sometimes it's luck, sometimes it's the way the ball bounces. If we play hard, we have a chance to beat them.”