One lesson that coach Tamara Liska always preaches to her Olympia High School girls soccer players is to follow the ball until it either goes out of bounds, or it is in the secure grasp of the opposing goalkeeper.
Apparently junior Ruby Roedell knows the drill well.
In a bang-bang sequence, Roedell suddenly found a loose ball right at her feet in the final seconds. She avoided one defender, and tallied the winning goal in the Bears’ 2-1 victory over Bellarmine Prep on a stormy Saturday afternoon in Tacoma.
The win pushed the Bears’ record to 7-2, and strengthens their stranglehold on second place in the 4A SPSL behind unbeaten Puyallup with six league matches remaining.
The loss drops the Lions (5-4) into a fourth-place tie with Rogers.
The always-upbeat Liska knows the significance of a season sweep over Bellarmine Prep — in any season. The Bears won 2-0 on Sept. 8 in Olympia.
“It’s a huge boost for the girls,” Liska said. “We tied our last game (with Rogers) … and they know the (4A SPSL) standings. They look. They are very aware of where they are.”
All of the scoring came in the second half Saturday.
Senior Jenna Killman put the Bears up 1-0 on her 18-yard blast in the 47th minute.
The Lions battled back, while facing a fierce headwind, in the 73rd minute. Haley Lepkowski unleashed a long shot that hit the near post. It ricocheted right to Lindsey Rudd, who tapped it in to tie the match at 1-1.
“We equalized it, and started pushing (the pressure on them) a little bit,” Bellarmine Prep coach Joey Waters said.
Known for its ability to strike fast, Olympia got the ball quickly to the Bellarmine Prep end. And Killman had another golden opportunity to score on a header, which goalkeeper Isabelle Davis came out and saved.
Inexplicably, the ball popped out of Davis’ hands — and drifted right toward to Roedell.
“I kind of try to expect that to happen, instead of giving up on it,” Roedell said.
Roedell sidestepped an oncoming defender, and slipped the ball past everybody with 20 seconds remaining for her second goal of the season — and her first career winner.
“(Roedell) is a great player,” Liska said. “We always talk about following our shots.”
Waters admitted this loss was a difficult one to swallow.
“It was tough because our girls played well in the second half against the wind,” Waters said. “The ball just popped loose, and the girl (Roedell) challenged her.”