LACEY — The Timberline High School girls soccer team was winning on style points, but it was dead even with North Thurston on the scoreboard.
That wouldn’t change until the game’s last three minutes, when the Blazers pushed in two goals to finally subdue North Thurston, 3-1, on Thursday night at South Sound Stadium.
The win gave the Blazers an early leg up in the 3A Narrows League against a rival that is also expected to be a postseason contender.
With the score 1-1, Timberline finally shook free for the go-ahead goal against a sturdy North Thurston defense in the 78th minute, when a Rams foul led to a tie-breaking penalty kick by Jade Castaneda.
Less than a minute later, the Blazers put a capper on the victory with a goal by Maddie Dhanens.
“Tonight was a big step up for us,” said Timberline coach Jeff Peltier, whose Blazers tied Yelm, 1-1, in their previous game.
Peltier said he liked the way his team was stringing together “seven, eight, nine passes, playing with pace and purpose” in the first half, and then again late in the game.
The Blazers were the faster, more assertive team, particularly in the first half, when they scored 10 minutes in. North Thurston goalkeeper Emily Sorenson made a diving save on a breakaway attempt by Mackenzie Williams, but the
ball ricocheted right to the Blazers’ Leah Magee, who punched it into the left corner of the net past a prone Sorenson.
The Rams had only one meaningful shot on goal in the first half. Midfielder Grae Hill had a good look from the right side 30 yards away, but sent the ball high over the goal mouth.
“We’re a slow-starting team,” North Thurston coach Brian Bigelow said.
In the second half, the Rams were far more crisp and fluid.
“Give them a lot of credit,” Peltier said of the Rams. “In the second half, they stepped up and were winning balls. They made it a good game, as a rivalry game should be.”
North Thurston tied the score two minutes into the second half when Emily Krall banged a shot off Blazers keeper Krista Jones, and Savannah Hakes pushed the rebound into an empty net.
Hakes had a breakaway one-on-one with Jones two minutes later but lost the ball off her knee right into the goalkeeper’s hands.
North Thurston’s defense survived a scramble in front of the goal at 67:50. But at 77:35, Rams senior defender Manisha Powell was called for a foul, which set up Castaneda’s go-ahead penalty kick.
“Emotions are always high in a game like this,” Bigelow said. “All the girls are excited, maybe a little overexcited.”
Bigelow said his team’s chances were hurt 20 minutes into the second half when senior midfielder Nani Powell left with an injury after colliding with Jones.
Timberline (1-1-2 overall, 1-0 in Narrows) visits Foss on Tuesday, while North Thurston (1-1, 0-1) hosts Wilson.