Kent-Meridian girls celebrate end of nine-year soccer losing streak
"It was like we had just won the World Cup," K-M player Sami Bond said after the Royals turned away shot after shot by Kentlake to earn a 0-0 tie on Thursday.
Special to The Seattle Times
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Sami Bond couldn't believe what she was seeing. And could not believe how she and her Kent-Meridian High School girls soccer teammates were feeling.
A huge weight had been lifted.
As time ticked off the clock, Bond, the team's central defender, searched out goalkeeper Lindsey Gonzalez and gave her a hug.
When the clock hit double zeros, the pain of a long, nagging losing streak had vanished with a 0-0 tie against Kentlake on Thursday at French Field in Kent.
The last time the K-M girls soccer program won a league match was during a 2-13-1 South Puget Sound League season in 2002. The last league tie came in 2003. First-year varsity head coach Chris Wells estimates the Royals had lost more than 130 consecutive games against SPSL competition.
"It was like we had just won the World Cup," Bond said of the jubilation that followed the cathartic tie. "I was kind of shocked initially."
The draw erased years of agony and was roundly celebrated.
"In a way, it was kind of like a win for us," said Bond, a four-year starter for K-M. "This is something we've been trying to do for a while. We didn't let Kentlake win. We held them out even in the heat. I know I was tired, but we just kept on playing."
Last year, the Royals were shut out 14 times and outscored 86-3. They fell to Kentlake, 6-0.
"It was just utter jubilation for the girls, and it came from all the effort they'd been putting into the program," Wells said. "This group was always the one that was being touted as the group that would break the streak."
Kentlake peppered the Royals with shot after shot to the bitter end. Wells estimated that Gonzalez made 20 or more saves in goal.
"Kentlake is a good team, and they were just pounding us on goal, especially late in the game," said the 23-year-old coach, a former boys soccer player at K-M and 2007 graduate of the school. "You could tell they didn't want to be the team to end the streak."
The Royals are back on their feet again.
"This was one of the proudest moments that I've had being on this team," said Bond, who felt like her team had three legitimate chances to win or tie in the previous three seasons. "We got in a huddle and we did an little chant. Then we took a picture for the yearbook.
"In the four years on this team, this was going to be the first time we'd get to go to school and not have to worry about saying, 'Yeah, we lost.' "
Bond hopes this positive moment carries over the rest of the season.
"In my opinion, it's almost like we're a threat to other teams now," she said. "We may not be a big threat, but our team has matured a lot."
Bond said there's a different vibe under Wells.
"He's just brought more pride to our team, being a former K-M student," Bond said. "It's really nice to have a coach who actually cares enough about their school and enough about the sport. He's actually coaching us from the sidelines.
"It was really nice to see the reaction when the final whistle blew."