Trailing 2-1 at Ketchikan with five minutes remaining the Thunder Mountain Falcons girls soccer team made school history.
They did not win, but in soccer, not winning does not mean you lose. The Falcons now officially have a point in the book with their tie against the Ketchikan Kings.
“Everybody on our team is elated,” TMHS coach Kris Coffee said. “This is the first non-loss. I say that with a huge grin on my face. The kids were exhausted after the game. We are now hoping to turn that into a victory.”
The Falcons tied the score on freshman Siosi Tupou’s throw in. Sophomore Rhys Coffee chested the ball down in the Kings box to classmate Shelby Lee for the punch in goal... and the Falcons have made history. And a great history begins with little positive steps like the Ketchikan road trip. A trip some of the freshman players probably didn’t comprehend and the upper classmen had been waiting for.
The Kings scored in the beginning of the first half off a free kick to take a 1-0 advantage into the break. The Falcons got a long ball shot from Coffee that deflected off the Kings’ keeper’s hands to nestled in the net for a tie score at 1-1 midway through the second.
Ketchikan was given a free kick with 10-minutes remaining on a Falcons’ handball penalty. The Kings kicked the ball through to earn a one-on-one with the Falcons’ keeper and scored for a 2-1 lead. The Falcons followed with their historic play for the 2-2 finish.
One of the Falcons keys in the historic tie was the defensive play of freshman Samantha Haight on Ketchikan’s star sophomore Brooke Simmons.
“Sammie stuck to her like glue and shut her down,” Coffee said. “The whole game. Sammie played such great defense on a very good soccer player. Everybody on our team played well, they had too... there was not one player on our team who did not step up to play.”
The Falcons lost 2-1 on Thursday. Ketchikan had a free kick and a Falcon defender tried to head the shot out, it bounced off the cross bar and in for a 1-0 lead for the Kings. The Kings got a second point on a through ball just before the half ended to lead 2-0. Falcons junior Carmen Smith connected on a penalty kick to cut the score in half and the Falcons saw a couple chances go just wide as time expired.
“We played well,” Coffee said. “The girls really felt like they did and carried that into the next game.”
The Falcons are finding their strengths, strategically position players, are becoming confidant on the pitch, and are still having fun.
“It was very positive for our girls to fight back,” Coffee said. “We played the full 80 minutes. We went out hard from the beginning. That tie was the first time we ever did not lose a game. We carried our momentum from Thursday’s game into Friday.”
More importantly, the mental shift showed on the field. The Falcons girls found that they could compete with Ketchikan and on another day they will rise to play Juneau-Douglas.
The Falcons travel to play Lathrop on Thursday, North Pole on Friday and Anchorage’s Grace Christian on Saturday.