T-Birds Blank Lions, Clinch First Semifinal Spot Ever


Before the postseason began, the Tumwater soccer team went on its annual “History Walk,” a group trip through the school’s halls well-decorated with athletic accomplishments to remember the heights previous squads had reached.

Next year’s History Walk will feature a new high-point.

Back on their home turf for one last match, the Thunderbirds rolled to a 3-0 win over No. 7 Lynden, and in so doing, clinched their first Final Four spot in soccer in school history.

“This group is different,” head coach Brett Bartlett said of his group, which has still yet to lose this season. “They don’t get too hot, they don’t get too cold, they stay focused on their task, and we just keep working. They really enjoy playing and working with each other.”

After scoring two early goals in their first-round matchup against Sammamish, the Thunderbirds had to put more work in against the Lions on Saturday, going over a half hour without anything to show for their efforts on the scoreboard.

That changed in the 34th minute, when Lucy Bergford made it 1-0, off a feed from Kayla Pope.

Tumwater led 1-0 going into the break, but Bartlett could see the writing on the wall.

“We were wearing them down,” he said. “They were really struggling to keep up with our wing players; their players were coming off gassed, crying, they were that tired. And our kids were just pushing, and pushing, and pushing, and pushing, keep going fast, keep going fast. Keep going hard, make them travel a lot, make them do things that they’re uncomfortable doing.”

It took another 20 minutes out of the break before Lynden finally wore down for good, with Mia Cuoio giving Tumwater insurance in the 61st minute. Less than 10 minutes later, Pope made it 3-0 to put things to bed.

The Thunderbirds will finish their season at Shoreline Stadium in King County this coming weekend. They’ll take on No. 6 Columbia River in the semifinals Friday, in a rematch of the 2A District 4 title game, which Tumwater won on an Ava Jones goal in stoppage time. A win will put the T-Birds in the title match, Saturday at 5 p.m., while a loss would send them to the third-place game at 1 p.m.