DUVALL — R.A. Long girls’ soccer was outgunned.
Cedarcrest boasted an artillery of premier soccer players who immerse themselves in the game 365 days a year. Passing combinations, organized defense and an attack disciplined enough to pose a threat at any time.
It made the Red Wolves a near impossible stop for the Lumberjills, who boasted little more than a fiery desire to win, a gritty defense that wasn’t going to back down and coaches with better tactical minds than most.
Despite the 3-1 Class 2A State Tournament loss to the Red Wolves on Tuesday, R.A. Long proved something in its first state playoff game since 2006 — to itself and to the handful of fans that braved the icy cold and the lengthy trek to the forested town northeast of Bellevue.
This outgunned Lumberjills squad didn’t just show up. They competed.
“I saw us fight and battle back,” RAL coach Teresa Aloe said. “It shows us we can compete against those teams.”
After allowing an early score, when a corner kick sailed to the far post and Cedarcrest’s Sarah Hommas headed it home for a 1-0 lead, the Jills’ defense stiffened up.
Led by senior Maddie Reece, the Jills thwarted every attack the Red Wolves mustered. Maddie Barker tallied nine saves in the contest, including a huge diving stop in the 15th minute to preserve the one-goal deficit.
“The first five minutes we were a little stunned,” Aloe said. “But we just got in it and then they weren’t getting beat and weren’t letting them turn. They weren’t as timid. … They finally figured out: ‘These are girls just like me.’”
Then the coaches — Aloe and assistant Max Anderson — worked up some magic at the break. Move Eastyn Reeves from defense to midfield, trust freshman Megan Mahoney in defense, and let the passionate junior run free in attack.
It paid off just seven minutes into the second half, when Abbie Anderson sent in a cross to Reeves, who got her foot on it and directed it toward goal. A scramble in the box ensued and typical to the relentless style of play she’s been heralded for on the pitch and the court, it was Reeves who outworked everyone to get to the ball one more time and poke it in for good measure.
“I had a lot of help in the midfield telling me what to do, so it was great to have my teammates surround me and congratulate me,” Reeves said of her score. “It was just a really good opportunity and we got a goal off it and got on the board. It was a really good game for our first time at state.”
This Lumberjills (13-8) team that had no business being tied with the 14-2-3 Red Wolves, who allowed just five goals on the year heading into Tuesday night’s contest, was doing just that — tied 1-1 with just more than 30 minutes to play.
“I think we showed up tonight,” Reeves said. “I think we came in and stepped it up.”
The lone defensive slip-up of the game came minutes later, allowing Cedarcrest to take a 2-1 lead. The Red Wolves eventually added another goal late in the game on a set piece to end the Lumberjills season and bid farewell to RAL’s two seniors — Anderson and Reece.
“I’m really proud of them to end their season like that,” Aloe said.
It was undoubtedly a proud note to conclude their high-school careers.