Warden to make debut in 1A state tournament tonight

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Connor Vanderweyst/Columbia Basin Herald Ashlyn Yamane (2) is one of six seniors on Warden this year. The Cougars will make their debut in the Class 1A state tournament tonight at home, 6 p.m., against Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls).

WARDEN — Hannah Mohs didn’t even realize her team had made history until an off-hand remark by her significant other.

It’s been one of those whirlwind years.

Warden won the South Central Athletic Conference (SCAC) East with an undefeated regular season and was district runner-up to La Salle. The second-seeded Cougars will host Lakeside (Nine Mile Falls) tonight at 6 p.m., in their Class 1A state tournament debut.

That’s right.

Warden girls soccer has reached the state tournament twice before, placing fourth in 2010 before appearing again in 2015. However, both of those instances came at the 2B level.

Seniors Melanie Cazares, Ellie Conahan, Cathy Mendoza, Aubree Skone, Bailey Whitney and Ashlyn Yamane — freshmen the last time Warden made state — will lead the Cougars into tonight’s matchup.

“It just shows their tenacity and how good they were as freshmen,” head coach Hannah Mohs said.

Lakeside (10-2, 15-4) finished second in the Northeast 1A league to Deer Park and is the No. 3 seed from District 6/7. The last time Lakeside reached the state tournament was 2015, so the experience advantage lies with the Eagles.

“We still have the same angst and same fire and desire to win,” Mohs said.

The only common opponent between the two was Okanogan. Warden routed the Bulldogs 8-2 a season ago; Lakeside shut them out this year 5-0. Both rosters are similarly constructed; Lakeside has eight seniors to Warden’s six. Cazares and Mendoza — an all-league first team defender — hold down the back line, wiping away any errant balls in front of keeper Conahan.

Offensively, midfielder Whitney was the co-player of the year in the SCAC East, following 2017 winner Skone.

Skone, who was also voted all-state as a junior, missed some of her senior season due to injury, but was still a first team forward. Yamane has found the back of the net more as a senior and was named honorable mention. Junior all-league players Aaliyah Escamill and Kennedy Kilmer should factor in as well.

“We have phenomenal passes and if we work together to find seams we’ll be OK,” Mohs said.

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