King’s crowned state champions

Freshman scores winning goal in shootout to lift the Knights to their first-ever girls soccer crown
By David Pan | Nov 21, 2017
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Katie Stella (center) celebrates scoring a game-tying goal against Cascade of Leavenworth during the 1A state girls soccer championship game Saturday, Nov. 18, at Shoreline Stadium. The Knights went on to defeat the Kodiaks 8-7 in a shootout to win their first state title in school history.

The fate of King’s championship hopes rested on the foot of freshman Annie Rasmussen.

After 80 minutes of regulation play, a pair of five-minute overtime periods and eight rounds of a shootout, the Knights were poised to win their first state girls soccer title in school history.

King’s and Cascade of Leavenworth were tied with four goals apiece following the first five penalty kicks. Each player then successfully scored in the sixth, seventh and eight rounds of the shootout, as the tension mounted.

Knights sophomore goalkeeper Grace Roberts then made the save of the season, pouncing on a shot to start the ninth round.

Rasmussen’s was up next.

“I didn’t even think it would get down to me,” Rasmussen said of the opportunity presented to her. “Our goalkeeper Grace blocked that shot and I then knew it came down to this moment. I didn’t want to look back and say I missed that shot. I wanted to make it.

“I had to.”

She did.

The biggest shot in King’s history made it past the goalkeeper, hitting nothing but net to give the Knights a 2-1 victory over the Kodiaks in the 1A championship game Saturday, Nov. 18, at Shoreline Stadium.

“I wanted to get it in the corner on the ground, a hard ball,” Rasmussen said. “Just getting it in the back of the net was my goal.”

Moments earlier, Roberts had to ask herself if she really stopped the shot by Cascade.

She did.

“I was just ‘do I have the ball? Yeah. Oh my gosh,’” Roberts said. “Then I started breaking down in tears of joy. I was so happy for the team.”

Rasmussen still had to convert on her penalty kick for the Knights (15-8) to make school history.

“I was pretty confident. I believed in Annie because she’s a strong player and she has a strong foot,” Roberts said. “She made it. I knew that she was going to make it.”

Rasmussen and Roberts had the chance to help King’s win a state title only because of senior forward Katie Stella.

King’s and Cascade had battled to a scoreless halftime before Ashley Parton scored in the 62nd minute to give the Kodiaks a 1-0 lead.

The Knights immediately responded by turning up the offensive pressure on Cascade, peppering the Kodiak goalkeeper with three shots in the next seven minutes. In the 70th minute, Rasmussen passed the ball to Stella during a frenzied scramble in front of the goal and the King’s senior forward scored to tie the game at 1.

“I feel like I don’t even remember,” Stella said of how she scored. “I was just kind of in the zone. No thoughts in my mind. I just saw the ball flicked over and then I just saw my foot go and kick it.

Rallying from behind is nothing new to the Knights, who coach Nicole Gabelein affectionately called her “cardiac” team. King’s overcame a 2-0 deficit to win the district championship game and has overcome similar deficits throughout the regular season.

So Gabelein wasn’t too concerned when Cascade scored.

“Honestly, I was thinking we’re going to come back and win,” she said. “I was not even worried. … We’ve put in four goals in eight minutes throughout this season against a tough team. Yeah, I don’t like being down. They’ve given my heart a workout all season long. They’ve prepared me for this.”

The players shared their coach’s confidence.

“We’ve been down like 2-0, I think, three different games and we’ve come back (in) all of the games,” Stella said. “So I just had so much trust in my teammates. We knew we weren’t going to lose. We were going to fight to the very end no matter what. And that’s what we did and it paid off.”

This year’s team was unlike any of the previous squads in that 10 freshmen were on the varsity roster with several playing key roles.

Rasmussen, one of those 10, admitted that at the start of the season she didn’t have any thoughts of playing in the championship finals, let alone winning a state title

“With 10 freshmen I didn’t think it was possible,” Rasmussen said. “We just all came together and I think us being together made us that much strong.”

Roberts also was surprised as anyone to be a part of a state championship team.

“It’s definitely so shocking,” she said. “I love these girls so much. It’s just amazing to be a part of this team. I’m just so shocked right now and so happy.”

Stella, one of only three seniors, noted that the Knights lost eight starters from last year’s team. In its first game of the season, King’s lost 5-2 to Cascade.

“We had no idea of what our team was going to look like,” Stella said. “We had so many underclassmen. It was just very interesting seeing how we were going to work together. And I feel like we didn’t even expect to be here. But once we got here – ‘OK. We’re doing it.’”

Stella and the other upperclassmen took an active and compassionate approach to helping to mentor the freshmen, Gabelein said.

“They learned how to be teammates. How to care for one another. How to work for one another,” the King’s coach said. “They played off each other. They play for each other. They inspire each other on and off the field.”

King’s had advanced to the final four the last five seasons, finishing second in 2013 and 2014 and third in 2012, 2015 and 2016. The Knights also have third place finishes in 2006 and 2008 and a fourth place finish in 2007.

The players were well aware of the significant of Saturday’s victory for the program, the school and all those in attendance.

“It’s everything that I could have dreamed for,” Rasmussen said. “It’s the first time King’s won a championship. It’s family and friends all getting together. We’ve never been closer.”

 

OUTNUMBERED: What’s it like to be on a team with 10 freshmen when you’re one of only three seniors? “They’re crazy. They’re just completely crazy,” Katie Stella joked. “Sometimes it was hard to wrangle them, especially having only three seniors. But they brought such a good dynamic to the team, such good energy and so much fun to be around them and it just made everything light and funny.”

KNIGHTS WIN REMATCH: Katie Stella scored in the first half and Callie Wright followed with a goal in the second half to lead King’s to a 2-0 victory over Seattle Academy in a 1A state semifinal girls soccer game Friday, Nov. 17, at Shoreline Stadium. Grace Roberts recorded the shutout for the Knights, who lost 4-1 to Seattle Academy in the Bi-District title game.

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