Leila Ramirez-Noon runs past a Kennedy Catholic player. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Leila Ramirez-Noon runs past a Kennedy Catholic player. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Kentwood girls soccer wins fourth straight and secures third in 4A NPSL

A 2-0 win gives the Conks the eighth seed in the district tournament

In a sport of highs and lows, the Kentwood Conquerors girls soccer team had a whole lot of highs and ended on an even higher note with a 2-0 win over Kennedy Catholic on Oct. 24.

“The girls knew this was a game to put them in a better position for districts and they came to play,” Head Coach Scott Gibb said.

“When we play calm and highlight how we are such a good team and have such a good community, that’s when we play our best soccer. That’s because we all play for each other,” said first goal scorer Annika Akiona.

It has been a really solid year for the Conks, a senior-laden roster that is primed and ready for the postseason.

“This is where the fun begins. This is what we play for — play a quick tournament and hopefully do well enough. Our goal is state,” Gibb said.

For many of those seniors, protecting their home field in what could be their final home game was super encouraging for Coach Gibb.

“For a lot of these seniors it was the last time they may get a chance to protect our home turf. I appreciate and applaud them for taking care of what they needed to,” he said.

Freshman keeper Logan Mabalay looks for a teammate. Ben Ray / The Reporter

Freshman keeper Logan Mabalay looks for a teammate. Ben Ray / The Reporter

But the team isn’t all seniors. Freshman keeper Logan Mabalay is in her first year, but her play shows that of a four-year varsity starter.

“The future is so bright for her. For her to start and be thrown in like that, she’s only going to get better. It’s very exciting to see what her future looks like, “ said Gibb.

Mabalay also gets a ton of love from her teammates: “Oh my gosh, she’s so good. We love her so much. She plays like she’s ten feet tall. She’s crazy… She plays with so much confidence, I love her so much,” said Akiona.

For the seventh time of the season, Kentwood kept a clean sheet, thanks in part to a great back line of defense.

“That backline of Loso, Emma, McKenzie, Jada, Kadora and Claire as a group of six they work to make Logan’s life a lot easier,” Gibb said.

The first goal scorer for the Conks was Akiona on a volley off the head of Tori Loso. Leila Ramirez-Noon kicked a corner that grazed the head of Loso, who directed it back to the middle for Akiona to cash in and take the lead.

“She is a ferocious defender. For her to get a goal it speaks volumes that she puts herself in the right spaces as a teammate. She so totally is that player that deserved the goal,” Gibb said.

Akiona’s goal was the difference in the game with the Lancers not being able to score all game. The insurance goal came mid-way through the second half.

After neither side really had a true scoring opportunity, Kentwood dominated the run of play and was rewarded with a second. Ramirez-Noon shot from 30 yards away from goal, the ball deflected off a Lancer defender and snuck its way into the goal. She’ll be credited with the goal, even if personally she doesn’t count it, she said on the sidelines.

The Conks ended the year on a five-game unbeaten streak including winning their last four. The key? How well the team members connect with one another: “Our connection (gets us going). We all really like each other, we have a lot of sisterhood,” Ramirez-Noon said.

Confidence is at an all-time high for Kentwood, and what better time to peak than going into the playoffs?

“The confidence of every single player has grown so much. Especially the underclassmen, they’re really coming out of their shells and turning into really good players… I’m excited for them in the future,” Akiona said.

With the win, Kentwood secured third place in the NPSL behind rival Kentridge and first place finisher Tahoma. If the records hold in the SPSL, the Conks will travel to Sumner and take on the Spartans, who would be the league champs.

It wouldn’t be the first time Kentwood has faced the Spartans this year — they opened their season against Sumner and fell 5-1. But that team that played Sumner was left in the past: “I would welcome, actually I would like to play them again… I’ll take whoever shows up, that’s how we play the game,” Gibb said.

The players are already thinking tactically on how to beat their next opponent.

“A lot of their (Sumner) goals came from us not pressing and allowing them to shoot from outside. So if we press harder and work together, we will be able to do well,” Ramirez-Noon said.

Kentwood goes into the playoffs as the eighth seed and takes on the number one seed on Oct. 28 on the road.


Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing editor@kentreporter.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.kentreporter.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in Sports

t
Too hot to play sports? High temps challenge Kent Parks Department

Four days of events canceled July 6-9 at Wilson Playfields where surface temps soared to 120 degrees

Gio Moimoi drives to the basket for Kentridge. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Summer league spotlight: Kentridge and Kentwood boys hoops

“It has been a night and day difference from year one to now.”

(Screenshot)
U.S. men’s national soccer team has time to turn it around. Can they?

After getting ‘grouped’ in Copa America, the U.S. needs to find momentum heading toward World Cup.

Skylar Diggins-Smith conducts the offense against the Sparks. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Storm pour it on in the fourth, wash out Sparks

Seattle used a huge 10-0 run late in the fourth to take control over Los Angeles.

Federal Way Memorial Field. Photo provided by Bruce Honda
Federal Way Memorial Field to host high school boys soccer tournaments

Class 2A, 1A competitions to move to Federal Way from Renton for 2025 to 2028

2024 Kent Reporter Athletes of the Year are Ella Wick and Ethan Loghry. Pictured left to right: Kent Reporter sports writer Ben Ray, Ella Wick, Ethan Loghry, and Brian Smith, Kent School District Director of Athletics and Activities. Photo provided by ROBBY MULLIKIN
Kent School District and Kent Reporter’s 2024 Athletes of the Year

Kentlake’s Ethan Loghry and Ella Wick take home top awards.

Kentwood and Kentridge players go at it for possession. Ben Ray / The Reporter
NPSL All-League Soccer Teams: Kentwood’s Logan Hasting is POTY

Other Kent School District athletes make the list.

Hazen’s Illia Biezak leaps over the bar. Ben Ray / The Reporter
State track and field: Liberty boys, Kent-Meridian girls place inside top four in 3A

Cassie Atkins (FW) continued to dominate, has now won five titles in three years.

t
Auburn Riverside softball wins state championship

Ravens win first fastpitch title in school history.

Steve Raible auctioning off a Seahawks football from 1983.
Seahawks legends inspire South King County youth at breakfast

Scholar-Athlete Breakfast in Auburn features Steve Largent and Steve Raible.

Sofia Mottern-Salinas gives a yell after getting the rally going against North Creek. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood fastpitch rallies at state, but misses out on trophy

Kentwood went 2-2 in the state tournament, falling to Emerald Ridge and Puyallup on final day.

Gabby Greenwood gives a yell after her home run against Graham-Kapowsin. Ben Ray / The Reporter
Kentwood falls in district championship, named five seed for state tournament

Kentridge makes second day of district tournament for first time since 2016.