Olympia High School girls soccer coach Tessa Effland remembers coaching Sophie Kabel for the first time.
Kabel, now a sophomore, was 5 years old when she began playing soccer. She always has been a goalkeeper.
The reason for that?
“She didn’t want to run,” Effland remembers with a laugh. “So we stuck her in goal so she wouldn’t have to run. It’s just been incredible to see this little girl who was only playing that position because she didn’t want to run transform into this amazing goalie.”
Kabel showed just how gifted she is, turning away all three penalty kicks during a shootout as the Bears claimed the third-place trophy at the Class 4A state tournament with a 1-0 (3-0 shootout) victory over Mead of Spokane on Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
It marks the best finish for Olympia (16-4-2) since taking second in the 3A state tournament in 1995.
“We’ve said all season, 22 strong,” Effland said. “That means 22 players coming together as a team, making sacrifices and leaving everything on the field. I’ve had a lot of talent here over the years, but you need everyone to buy into the team for everything to work. This group did.”
Neither team scored in regulation or the two 5-minute overtime periods, forcing penalty kicks.
It’s a tense situation for most goalkeepers, but Kabel seemed almost giddy before the shootout.
“Playing in the Narrows League, we don’t have PKs,” Effland said. “We’ve lost a few playoff games because we just weren’t that familiar with them. This season, every day after practice, we had 22 players take penalty kicks at Sophie. She faced 94 days of that. We had a lot of confidence in her.”
The Bears connected on all three of their shootout attempts, getting goals from Maggie DeBell, Megan Spataro and Nicole Fesenbek.
“We score, Sophie stops,” Effland said.
Kabel dived to her right during Mead’s first PK attempt, getting a late hand on the ball to bat away Alea Acosta’s shot.
On Mead’s second attempt, Kabel went left and pushed Martha Heaps’ blast aside.
Kabel was allowed to stay upright on the Panthers’ third shot as she secured a chest-high line drive, ending Olympia’s season with a victory.
“I just go blank,” Kabel said about her routine before shootouts. “I just told myself I had to get this. My team had my back. I just needed to make stops.”
Mead, which lost to Central Valley, 1-0 (5-3 shootout) in a Friday semifinal, dictated most of the pace during regulation against Olympia.
Midway through the second half, the Panthers held a 12-2 advantage on shots, including outshooting the Bears 11-0 to open the second half.
Mead (17-5-1) finished with 16 shots to Olympia’s eight, but Kabel came up with nine saves.
Freshman Jenna Killman paced Olympia’s offense with three shots, all on goal.