As she prepared for the 3A state soccer final the night before, Abby Nikfard thought about how she’d like to score a goal during the biggest contest of the season.
Consider it done.
The Lake Washington High sophomore forward unleashed a 30-yard shot that struck paydirt in the 22nd minute and got the Kangs rolling on their way to a 3-1 victory over Bellevue on Nov. 23 at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. It was LW’s third victory to one loss against its 3A KingCo rival this year.
“It was really cool and I think it helped our team get excited. It made us feel like a family,” Nikfard said of her netter. Following the goal, the Kang bench and fans caused an emotional eruption that could have possibly been felt back home in Kirkland.
Lake Washington (18-1-1), which kept the ball in Bellevue’s half of the pitch for much of the second frame, also received goals from senior forward Jen Estes in the 36th minute and junior defender Ari Issa in the 62nd minute to go up 3-0. Bellevue (13-6-3) struck back with an Audrey Miller goal in the 65th minute.
Kang senior defender CC Maloof helped stave off many an attack during the final and the entire season. She and head coach Ashton Staudacher walked back to the team huddle with arms around each other and yelled that they “crossed the finish line!”
“It’s feels amazing. This has been a goal of this team since the very beginning and we just took it one game at a time, one day at a time,” Maloof said. “Every single player on that team put in so much work, so much effort, I’m so proud of all of them. I love all of them.”
There were some pre-game jitters amongst the Kangs, but Maloof knew they were ready to play another solid match.
“We knew that we had the ability to win this game, and we believed in ourselves and we did it. We put it away,” she said.
Estes, who also scored in the Kangs’ semifinal victory, said they were thrilled to play in the final, but didn’t expect to be clashing with Bellevue again. The Kangs rose to the challenge, she said, when playing their local opponent for the fourth time this season.
“I think it’s awesome that two KingCo teams made it to the final,” Estes said. “I think it’s great representation, shows the competitiveness of the league, so I think it’s pretty cool that we had that opportunity.”