The Stags celebrate after senior Ella Carnahan (middle-right) nets a goal.
Photo By: Michael Brock
With a 4-0 victory over Cascade on Saturday, the Deer Park High School soccer team punched its ticket to the 1A state tournament for the fifth time in the past eight seasons. The Stags (15-2-1 overall) will play a first-round match against Bear Creek (16-1-2) at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday at Union Stadium in Mead.
When play kicked off on Saturday evening at Union Stadium, it was 37 degrees and blowing 11 miles per hour. Deer Park senior forward Ella Carnahan found the back of the net in the seventh minute, scoring a beauty from 30 yards out.
After losing 1-0 to Lakeside in the district championship, the team was focused on taking a quick lead over the Kodiaks, Stags’ head coach Sean O’Neal said.
“We were looking for something early,” said O’Neal. “We just kind of needed to get the monkey off our back.”
Deer Park again controlled the time of possession, as it did against Lakeside, mostly warding off any attacks from Cascade. The Stags had at least 10 shots on goal in the first half, and led 1-0 headed to the break.
“I was happy that [we had] a lot of opportunities again today, but they were much better,” O’Neal said.
Before his team took the field for the second half, O’Neal could be overhead telling the huddle, “Find the net, leave no doubt.”
The Stags did just that.
On a corner kick barely five minutes later, Carnahan passed to senior striker/fullback Grace Martinson, who maneuvered through the defense and scored to give Deer Park a 2-0 advantage.
“If we don’t have to use [Grace] at center back, which we didn’t today, then we’re so much stronger up front,” O’Neal said.
Cascade had several chances to score, but all were blocked or defended well by senior goalkeeper Hannah Krantz.
With 22 minutes remaining in the match, junior fullback Alayna Demir put one in from about 30 yards for the Stags’ third point.
The Kodiaks’ closest opportunity came from sophomore Teyva Dillion on a free kick, which sailed over the goal.
For good measure in stoppage time, Carnahan gave Deer Park a 4-0 lead from the right side, looping the ball over junior goalkeeper Rayen Blue’s outstretched hands.
“Their keeper did quite well,” O’Neal said. “I thought we would be able to run on to some of those, but she kept the ball in her hands.”
The 16-team 1A state tournament bracket was unveiled on Sunday — the Stags received a No. 7 seed to secure a home match in the first round. Deer Park hosts No. 10 Bear Creek on Wednesday. With a win, the Stags would likely travel to play No. 2 Seattle Academy, who will face No. 15 Kiona Benton in the first round.
The Deer Park girls soccer team will be competing in the state tournament for the 10th time and the fifth time at the 1A level. This year, the Stags will be defending last season’s state championship, the first in school soccer history.
“We’re going to get everybody’s best,” O’Neal said. “As far as the road goes, it will just be a little tougher because that second round we’ll have to travel. But I think we’re prepared. And we’re good on turf, so we’re ready for that.”