Monday, September 17 was another warm, late-summer day as the Lady Borderites prepared for their soccer game against Nooksack Valley Pioneers.
Coach Dan Steelquist called them together for pregame instructions. “We will really have to run today as the Pioneer’s field is a little smaller than our own,” Steelquist said. “Plus, with the dry weather, the soccer ball will roll faster and farther.”
Blaine scored first at the 5:50 mark. Senior and co-captain Nicole Statham kicked it into the net after receiving assisting passes from Ashley Quesada and Hope Willett. Nooksack came back to tie it 1-1 at the 10:29 mark.
During the next six minutes the girls stymied each other’s offense. Then, on a breakaway, Willet scored the first of her three goals for the day. Co-captain Liz Berry got the assist at the 17:10 mark and, the Pioneers kept the game tied, scoring at the 20:19 mark. The scored stayed tied 2-2 to the half.
“We must be alert as the field conditions vary out there. Where it is dry the ball will roll super fast but where it has been watered the grass is longer and it will slow it down,” said Steelquist, during his halftime pep talk. “It’s time for us to switch to the two-touch offense. Receive the ball [one touch] then pass [two touches]. This will work because of the field conditions.”
Blaine dominated the second half taking 15 shots on goal compared to five for the Pioneers. The only lineup change was to put Shirin Roth–Lerner in as goalkeeper.
The scoring combination of Berry passing to Willet for a score accounted for two of the final three Borderites’ goals.
“We played completely better in the second half as the girls responded to the two-touch offense, which gave us a chance to run and play the game at the faster pace,” Steelquist said. “We gave ourselves a chance to win and did. We all benefited from the play of Berry.”
Wise beyond her years, Berry has been playing soccer for 13 years. “The one thing I have learned is that it is prudent to listen to the coach,” she said. “When coach asks us to do something we trust him and try to do it.”
It was Berry’s three assists and one goal that earned her this reporter’s player of the game award. “From my forward position people usually look to score. I am a little different in that I look to pass,” Berry said. “I believe you have to use your head to help the team win. I would rather make a smart pass for a sure goal than try to score myself on a low probability shot.”
The Borderites next play Ferndale on Thursday, September 27 and Meridian on Tuesday, October 2 at Blaine.