The chants of “Shim, Shim, Shim” transitioned to “Tina, Tina, Tina,” as a jubilant Skyline soccer team gathered at midfield.
There was no secret after Tuesday’s opening round 4A state playoff game as to how the Spartans lived to play another day.
Two players — junior forward Rachel Shim and senior goalkeeper Tina Vargas — made crucial plays down the stretch as Skyline defeated Kentridge 1-0.
“Tina came up with that huge save when her team needed her to produce and Rachel showed that competitive fighting spirit that we live by,” head coach Don Braman said.
In the 67th minute, Chargers’ forward Emily Hanna broke free at midfield after a deflection. Facing a one-on-one situation, the University of Denver-bound Vargas came out and stuffed Hanna’s attempt on goal.
“I honestly thought she was going to chip me, but I decided to hold my ground,” Vargas said. “The thing I thought about is my high-school soccer career is not over, we’re not ending it now.”
Nearly 8 minutes later, in the 75th minute, it was Shim’s turn to shine.
Taking a throw-in from teammate Sydne Tingey, the ball was deflected off a defender in the penalty box into the air. Shim quickly turned and booted it from 10 yards into the bottom right corner of the net.
“To me, it was weird because I felt like it was slow motion,” she said. “I saw it go up in the air and I knew when right when it came down, this is mine, I’m going to score this one.”
The goal was Shim’s third of the season — first since Sept. 17 — and a huge accomplishment for a player recovering from a serious knee injury.
Last winter, Shim tore the meniscus, ACL and MCL in her right knee during a basketball game. With so much talent on the Spartans’ roster, she’s had to fight for playing time in her junior season.
“What’s great for her is she’s worked her butt off to get back,” Braman said.
Prior to the late-game action, there were few opportunities for either team. The Spartans out-shot the Chargers 3-2 in the first half and 8-4 for the game.
The close contest came as little surprise to Braman, who knew Kentridge (13-3-3) would be a tough test.
“We knew coming in Kentridge was a good side,” he said. “They’d beaten Kentwood and finished second in, if not the strongest league in the state, certainly right up there with us.”
Eastside Catholic stuns top ranked Southridge
Eastside Catholic overcame a long road trip and a team ranked No. 1 in 3A by various polls on Tuesday, defeating Southridge 1-0 in Kennewick.
The Crusaders netted the game’s lone score in the 64th minute off the foot of Shelby Newell.
Goalkeeper Nemo Thomas recorded the shutout as the Eastside Catholic soccer program recorded its first ever state victory. Their previous two trips in 1990 and 2010 resulted in first-round losses.
The Crusaders will host either Mount Spokane or Kamiakin on Saturday in the 3A state quarterfinals.