The girls soccer team is 2–1 in conference play after winning a Jekyll and Hyde performance at home against Nooksack Valley September 24.
Uninspired play in the first 40 minutes put the Borderites down by two, but a very different team came out to start the second half. Ashley Quesada scored a goal off the starting whistle and forward Olivia Olason netted a hat trick for the Borderites.
In the first half, “We didn’t show up to play,” said head coach Kelly Tuski. “We played flat, didn’t possess the ball like we usually do and they passed right around us.”
Nooksack Valley’s Brittney Passe broke the ice by scoring off of a corner kick in the ninth minute of the game.
Fifteen minutes later, Tori VandeHoef won a scuffle in front of the goal to put the Pioneers ahead two nil.
“You need to have a strong desire to win,” said assistant coach Giovanni Quesada. “In the first half, the girls didn’t have it.”
Blaine had nothing to show after 40 minutes of play, and the Pioneers looked comfortable with their two-point lead.
“When we came out in the second half, we just wanted to put the first half behind us and forget about it,” said Olason.
That strategy started to pay off less than thirty seconds from the start of the half. Ashley Quesada scored off a through ball from Olason, with a total of only four or five touches from start to goal.
Five minutes later, Alexis McElwain lofted a long through ball to Olason, who put it in the back of the net to tie the game. In the 10th minute of the half, Caylie Sharp sent another through ball to Olason and she scored again.
Play went back and forth for 15 minutes with Blaine ahead by one. Then VandeHoef drew a free kick and sent a beautifully struck ball bouncing off the crossbar and into the net to tie the game again, this time at three apiece.
With the pressure on, Blaine turned up the intensity. In the 65th minute of the game, Olason scored the winning goal, her third of the day, this time assisted by Emily Roe. Roe sent a through ball past the last defender, and Olason one-timed it into the goal.
“It was an amazing comeback,” Tuski said. “The girls really stepped it up in the second half. They came out strong and dominated possession, and that’s how we win. When we play a strong possession game it leads to opportunities and Olivia [Olason] and Ashley [Quesada] did a great job finishing those plays today.”
Giovanni Quesada said he noticed a definite switch in the mentality of the Blaine players from the first half to the second.
“In the second half, they played like they were protecting their turf. No one wants to lose in front of family and friends, and that plays a major role in how you hustle for every ball and play hard,” he said. “The game is equal parts mental and physical, but it’s also a lot of heart, and in the second half the girls played with heart.”
Some light-hearted competition among teammates may have played a role in the win as well, Olason said.
“Me and Ashley [Quesada] are kind of competing for most goals scored,” she said. “I think she has seven. I have five. We both play forward and midfield, and we switch back and forth to keep teams guessing.”
Blaine plays at Anacortes Thursday, September 26. Tuski said the key to winning that game will be for the girls to play like they did in the second half against Nooksack Valley.
“I call it playing in ‘the green zone,’ when the girls are confident, hustling and playing with intensity. If we can play like that we’ll do well against Anacortes,” she said.