Lake Washington forward Jen Estes’ golden goal off a Savannah Walenczak cross in overtime won the Kangs the league title and sent them into the 3A state playoffs.
Estes scored the goal in the first overtime period to break a 0-0 tie against the Bellevue Wolverines in the 3A KingCo championship game on Nov. 5 at Lake Washington High School.
“Just seeing my teammates running up to me was crazy,” Estes said. “All the energy and excitement that we had was awesome. It was definitely a feeling I’ll never forget. (Walenczak) whipped it in, it was a great cross, a great ball. I knew I just had to get there.”
The game was evenly matched, with both teams getting chances, but neither team able to find the back of the net in regulation. One of the best chances for Lake Washington came early in the second half when sophomore Kylie Jones put a shot wide of the net. Lake Washington goalkeeper Natalie Neils made a great save on Bellevue midfielder Morgan Pingree midway through the second frame to keep it scoreless.
Lake Washington head coach Ashton Staudacher said the game was frantic at times, something that can happen in high-stakes matches.
“It kind of came down to the team that wanted it more, the team that finished their opportunities.” Staudacher said. “Fortunately, we were the team that did that tonight. It really could have gone either way. Bellevue is a really good team, they’re coached by a fantastic coach. I wish them the best of luck.”
The league championship is another accomplishment for a Kangs team that had a near-perfect 11-1 league record on the way to the regular season KingCo title.
“It’s been awesome,” Estes said about the team’s performance this season. “We’ve really grown together as a team from the beginning. Everyone’s gotten pretty close on and off the field. Hopefully, we can keep playing hard in practice and in games and keep going further.”
Going into the season, Staudacher said they focused on making sure all the players bought in to the team’s success. With large rosters, Staudacher said everybody isn’t going to play as much as they might like, so it’s important to make sure they all work together and don’t check out.
“I think the girls have done a phenomenal job sticking together and creating that family atmosphere and creating that buy-in, no matter what their role is on the team,” Staudacher said. “I think that has helped us tremendously.”
Estes said the team is going to be ready for the 3A state tournament that begins on Nov. 11.