Knights denied in state quarterfinal loss to King’s Way Christian | Girls soccer

King’s will miss the final four for first time since 2011
By David Pan | Nov 15, 2018
Photo by: David R Pan King’s Olivia Gabelein celebrates with teammates Peri Welch (17), Sophie Ruhlman and Callie Wright after Gabelein scored against Vashon Island.

K

ing’s bid to defend its state title ended in heartbreak.

McKenzie Ellertson scored two goals to lead King’s Way Christian to a 3-1 victory in a 1A state girls soccer quarterfinal game Saturday, Nov. 10, at King’s Way Christian High School in Vancouver.

The loss means that King’s will not be advancing to the final four for the first time since 2011.

“It was tough to swallow,” King’s coach Nicole Gabelein said. “They scored a goal right away. We played from behind most of the game.”

Ellertson gave King’s Way Christian a 1-0 eight minutes into the contest. Teammate Lucy Muhammadi then scored in the 21st minute to give King’s Way Christian a 2-0 lead.

King’s cut the lead to 2-1 in the 30th minute when senior Sarah Nielsen headed the ball into the goal.

Ellertson sealed the victory with a breakaway goal in the 61st minute.

“McKenzie Ellertson was tough for us to stop,” Gabelein said. “She was fast and talented and we just had trouble.”

Gabelein said that King’s had scoring opportunities but just wasn’t able to convert.

“They found the back of the net and we didn’t,” she said. “Both teams possessed (the ball) probably about equally. She (Ellertson) was dangerous with the ball at her feet. She’s explosive and fast. We had a plan to deal with her. She found a way around it.”

King’s Way Christian packed the box with defenders from the start of the game, which thwarted King’s attempts to rally.

“It was hard to get through,” Gabelein said. “They had six or seven back constantly. It was a challenge in that regard. It sort of was how they played the whole game. They were extremely defensive.”

King’s graduates only three seniors – Nielsen, forward Callie Wright and defender Emma Culberson – but all three played huge roles on the team. Wright was named the North Sound Conference Offensive Player of the year, while Culberson was the Defensive Players of the Year. Nielsen earned first-team, all-league honors.

Wright led King’s with 37 goals.

“Her energy on the field will be missed,” Gabelein said.

Culberson anchored a stingy King’s defense that recorded nine shutouts this season.

“She was extremely reliable all season long,” Gabelein said.

Nielsen is headed to St. Martin’s College University in Lacey. The King’s standout played in the midfield for much of the season but also saw time back in the defense, especially during the postseason.

“She did a knockout job in the midfield,” Gabelein said. “We moved her back and she played center back for a couple of games. She was a knockout center back. I couldn’t be happier with her and how she filled roles we needed. She stepped up.”

Three freshmen saw action in Saturday’s contest. The rest of the lineup was largely sophomores.

“I feel really strong about where we’re headed,” Gabelein said. “We had a good season and we kept pushing and doing better in games. This game was difficult to find the back of the net.

“It’s not the ending we wanted, but the girls are coming away knowing they put forth their best effort. I’m proud of the way they held together. I’m proud of the way they came together.”

KING’S WINS STATE OPENER: Four different players scored goals to lead King’s to a 4-0 victory over Vashon Island in a first-round 1A state girls soccer tournament game Wednesday, Nov. 7, at Woolsey Stadium. Olivia Gabelein scored five minutes into the first half. Callie Wright, Taylor Faris and Daylee Peterson all scored in the second half.

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