Big win, followed by big loss for Wildcat soccer

The Mount Si Wildcat girls' soccer team opened the second half of the Kingco 3A season back in the win column after a victory over Mercer Island last week. The balance and quick-strike nature of this team offensively showed up in the 2-0 decision.

It was a well-played first half as both the Wildcats and Islanders got good opportunities to score. Mount Si, though, had more chances and their pressure finally paid dividends in the 38th minute as a sophomore struck gold for the first time. Stephanie Burke was in the right place at the right time to bail out senior teammate Kirsten Mills, who had missed a scoring attempt. "Kirsten Mills fell over and she kicked the ball back, which was really good, and then I just took a one-touch shot and it went in and it felt really good to score," Burke said.

The goal was Burke's first as a varsity player at Mount Si and she became the ninth player to score a goal for the Wildcats in 2006, joining such stars as Mariana Zanella, Nikki Stanton and Mills, and role players like McKinna Little and Jordyn Wilson.

Zanella added the second Mount Si goal, her fourth of the season in five games played, in stoppage time to close out the first half. Stanton was credited with an assist in her first game back after missing two games due to an out-of-town soccer commitment. The Wildcats had problems in the second half as the Islanders controlled the play for most of the half, getting a number of excellent shot opportunities. It wasn't until late in the half that Mount Si's offense got going and started to make plays of their own.

The inconsistent play continues to be an issue for Wildcat coach Darren Brown. "It's no secret. We still have not played 80 minutes of soccer the way we want to play, and we haven't gotten there yet," Brown said. He offered a positive spin, however, on what he described as "roller-coaster soccer." "It's a good problem to have since we're winning ball games, but we have to get it figured out," Brown said.

Despite the up-and-down play in the second half, Mount Si took home the win and goalie Jessica Blessard bagged her second shutout of the season. "I just basically told myself, 'I got to keep my head in this game. There's no possible way that I'm going to let this team score on me tonight,'" Blessard said. "This is my senior year and the last time I have to play Mercer Island. I was just totally focused and my whole goal for this night was to get the shutout."

Burke indicated that improved team play will help fix things. "We just need to communicate better on the field with each other and we just need to work together a little bit more as a team," Burke said.

The play was improved Oct. 5 at Skyline, but it was the Spartans who made the plays when they counted and they scored a big victory that hurt Mount Si's postseason chances. The 2-1 win allowed Skyline to tie the Wildcats for second place in league and with a 1-0-1 head-to-head advantage, if the two teams finish tied at the end of the season, it appears the Spartans would get that second-place spot and a berth in the league title game. Stanton scored her team-leading sixth goal in the contest for Mount Si.

Mount Si is at Bellevue for a huge game against another playoff contender in the Wolverines Thursday, then the Wildcats return home Saturday to host Sammamish. Kickoff times for both games is 7:30 p.m.

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