ROYAL — La Salle scored its second goal within two minutes of the first one and it was like yanking the plug from the bathtub and watching all the Warden energy run down the drain Thursday night at the SCAC district championship game at David Nielsen Stadium in Royal.
La Salle striker Grace Liscano hit a nice header off a cross from the far sideline by Natalie Newman to beat Warden goalkeeper Ellie Conahan to the far post at 23:40 for the first score of the game. Little over two minutes later, it was Liscano again and the Lightning struck twice within the first 20 minutes.
La Salle defeated previously unbeaten Warden (16-1) 8-0 to claim the SCAC No. 1 seed going into the state tournament. La Salle, which had 5-of-11 on the first-team, all-SCAC West list, converted on 5-of-7 shots on goal in the first half, taking a 5-nil lead into the intermission.
“Our big issue was the turf. We play on it once a year and they practice on it every day,” said Warden coach Hannah Mohs. “We knew we could play with these guys, but the ball was on our side of the field the entire first half and they just kept the pressure on the whole time.”
It wasn’t for lack of effort, Warden has won its share of one-sided matches this season, including Tuesday’s 10-3 win over Cle Elum-Roslyn in the semifinals. But on Thursday, it was the exact opposite.
“Losing is still hard, but this is (the level of competition) we’re going to see the rest of the season. So if you’re going to lose, better now than the next time we see them,” senior midfielder Ashlyn Yamane, who was an all-SCAC honorable mention on the East side. “We’re not going win by 10 goals anymore. We need to learn from this and play physically and mentally tougher as we move forward.”
La Salle (14-3) took control of the midfield from the opening whistle, moving its midfield and defenders up and pressing with every opportunity. It was two good soccer programs standing toe-to-toe, but the Lightning scored with quickness on the turf. They play their regular season on grass, but have a facility to practice on Lightning assistant Mike Hernandez said.
“To tell you the truth, the turf we practice on isn’t like this. It’s different, so I think we were better off practicing on grass,” he said.
The Lightning took seven quality shots and even though Conahan got to a couple of them, she was up against the wall all night because the La Salle strikers were quicker to the ball and a step ahead of the Cougar defense most of the night.
“They were really good at attacking and they threw everybody at us tonight, and we have to learn how to do the same thing,” Mohs said. “We depend on our forwards a lot to do all of the work, so now we have to make sure we move up and play as a team.”
Yamane said, “We never really stopped playing and I think the effort was there,” she said. “It’s not like we didn’t have shooting opportunities, we just didn’t finish.
“We don’t have a lot of time to regroup, we just need to remember how we got here and get back to that.”
Warden 0 0 - 0
La Salle 5 3 - 8
LS - Grace Liscano (Natalie Newman)
LS - Grace Liscano (Azul Ponce)
LS - Gillian Martin
LS - Azul Ponce
LS - Azul Ponce
LS - Kamry Fiscus (indirect)
LS - Natalie Newman
LS Kamry Fiscus