On Sept. 5, the Kentridge Chargers beat the Rogers Rams in a tightly contested high school girls soccer game 4-3 to open up both teams’ seasons.
About two months later on Nov. 2, with a trip to the Class 4A state tournament on the line, the Chargers took charge and took down the Rams 6-0 in a district game at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.
“(We’ve developed) quite a bit. We tactically changed some things … We really tightened up our defense,” said coach Jeff Fleming.
The win signified a lot for the Chargers, who finished second in the league and bounced back after losing their second game to Curtis by the same 1-0 score five days prior.
“We went to practice and knew we had to get to work. No more messing around. We were just like ‘We’re going to state no matter what.’ It showed on the field,” senior Alexa Mora said.
Kentridge is in the state tournament for the first time since 2018, and the Chargers go into the tournament emphatically.
“All I can say is they love each other… They play for one another,” said Fleming.
Senior Jayda Sparks told the Kent Reporter back on Sept. 26 that this was going to be the year the Chargers got back to the state tournament. She kept her word:
“We worked really hard. It’s what we wanted. We pushed ourselves to do it and we got here,” Sparks said.
But Sparks wasn’t the only one with that confidence that this group would make the jump. Mora wanted to go out with a bang.
The Chargers didn’t take long to get going against Rogers, almost as if they wanted to get the game over faster than the 80-minute allotment. Mora took the team’s second corner kick and placed it right at the feet of Sparks, who flicked the ball into the net inside the third minute of the game.
Just seven minutes later, Sparks got her second of the night. She hit a rocket from 35 yards out, which hit the crossbar and caromed off the keeper for her second of the game. That second goal settled the nerves for the Chargers.
“Before the game we were super nervous not knowing what the outcome would be. As soon as those first two went in, we kind of knew, ‘Oh yeah, we got this in the bag,’” said Sparks.
The rest of the first half was dominated by the Chargers, and at the end of the half, they were rewarded. This time Sparks set up her teammate Mora, who snuck the ball past the keeper and into the net for the third goal of the half for Kentridge.
It seemed at times like Kentridge was playing on a power play — every time there was a loose ball or deflected pass, it fell at the feet of a Charger. That momentum carried over into the second half when Mora found herself at the center of the Kentridge attack again. This time she sent a ball over the top of the Rams’ back line and Shiney Mayanja rifled a shot past the Rogers goalie for the Chargers’ fourth goal of the night.
The offense didn’t stop there. Ten minutes later, Sierra Wallace got involved and found Tiana Stephenson for the fifth goal of the game for the Chargers. This season, Kentridge has scored five goals in five different games, with the record of those teams being 11-53-5. Rogers had a record of 10-5-4, which isn’t close to any of the five teams that Kentridge had scored five or more goals against.
“Everyone has built up confidence for sure. People on the team have gone from a couple goals, not doing as they would like to. But now, confidence is through the roof and everyone is playing their best soccer. I love it,” Sparks said.
For the final goal of the night, junior Mari Wilson launched a shot from well outside the penalty area, and the Rogers keeper had no chance at a save. The 6-0 score was something nobody expected.
“We thought it was going to be a close game… We knew we were gonna win, we had a feeling that we were going to win,” said Sparks.
The shutout was the Chargers’ ninth of the season, the most in any season since 2016 (7). The backline of defenders are all juniors, and their chemistry helps them have success and make keeper Alexis Natividad’s life easy.
“It shows a lot about the quality (of player). The backline never comes out anyway. I think they’re as good as the conference has and maybe even the district. It’s four juniors and they’re just wonderful,” Fleming said.
The state tournament begins this week and Kentridge is ready for it.
“I’m so excited. I came into this year and was like ‘We are going to state.’ Now we are and I’m so excited,” Mora said.
“I’m pumped, we’re going for gold. We’re going for the end,” Sparks said with a smile and laugh.
Kentridge plays Mount Si at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 8 at Mount Si in the 16-team tournament. Kentridge is seeded No. 9 and Mount Si No. 8. The winner will advance to the quarterfinals and a chance to make the final four Nov. 17-18 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.