by Jack Kintner
Blaine girls showing some muscle
The Blaine girls began the year with a couple of one-goal losses, on the road to Lakewood 4-3 and at home to a powerful Lynden Christian squad 2-1. They turned that around in huge fashion last week in Mount Vernon by defeating perennial powerhouse Sultan 1-nil, and won again Tuesday afternoon at Nooksack 3-1.
Though this new soccer season is barely underway, the Lady B’s are already in the thick of the chase for post-season play, supported by an outstanding crop of freshman that coach Dan Steelquist moved to the varsity squad as soon as they showed up. They all seem to play at least a year beyond their chronological age, and are relentless.
The B’s victory over Nooksack showed mid-season form with a lot of heads-up play in a game that at times looked more like a clinic for the other guys.
And though they all clearly love to play the game, they’re not out there just to breathe deeply.
This is a team of girls that know how to close, how to pull the trigger, drop the guillotine, stun the salmon… how to not just play the game well but, oh yeah, to win it.
Constant pressure on the goal, skilled passing, communicating with each other, these kids are a treat to watch, especially in these early days when they’re still an unknown in the league. They move so quickly your eyes get tired of swiveling, like watching bees.
This time the deed was done on the lumpy, pockmarked elementary school field the Pioneers call home, which after getting used to Blaine’s superb facilities, the best soccer fields in the county if not the region, feels like playing billiards on gravel.
The scoring came in a cluster – Wren Baldwin at 22 minutes on an assist from frosh flash Breanna Olason, junior ace Alyssa Hendrickson at 24 minutes with a Baldwin assist, and MacKenzie Nix three minutes later on an assist from another frenetic freshman, Bailey Richardson.
The Borderite freshmen have given a whole new look to this team that last year was a little thin when trying to play as an offensive unit. They include the alert keeper Janelle Gobbato, and four kids who seemed to be everywhere Kristen Elsbree, Carley Schmidt, Breanna Olason and Bailey Richardson.
The redoubtable duo of Alyssa Hendrickson and MacKenzie Nix are the heart of Blaine’s offense, and are a little taller this year with the late-game stamina to blitz opposing teams silly.
Last year, shots deep into Borderite territory were often simply launched into space off the beautiful steel legs of all-league defender Lori Robertson.
This year Steelquist has the horses power beginning the offensive play from the point at which Blaine controls the ball, often from way deep in the Borderite end, defenders controlling the ball.
“Whoever wins the ball, the attack starts there,” Steelquist said repeated after the game, burying it into the heads of his young charges. “This has us winning balls in front of the opposing goal, because the whole team plays defensively beginning deep in the opponent’s turf.”
Blaine’s next opponent is today (Thursday, September 15) out at Mt. Baker high school in Deming at 4:30, where the untested Mounties are led this year by new coach Kelly Graham. Blaine’s got some new kids in town, and they will be heard from.