The Eatonville High School seniors pose prior to their game against Elma. From left: Nikia King, Ryan Stammen, Kennedy Noble, Hannah Zaragoza, Alexa Ricketts, Kyleigh Backlund, Ella Gendreau and Davy Olson.
In a bittersweet conclusion to their regular season, the Eatonville High School soccer seniors took the field for the last time at B.W. Lyon Field, but their celebratory night ended on a somber note as the Cruisers fell to the Elma Eagles, 1-0.
The match held significant implications, determining the seeding for the Southwest Washington District 4 playoffs.
Having previously bested the Eagles with a 1-0 victory earlier in the season, the Cruisers were eager to secure a win that would guarantee them the coveted second place overall in the 1A Evergreen League and a home game in the playoffs. However, Elma was equally determined to claim the same spot.
The Eagles controlled possession throughout the game, and the pivotal moment arrived in the 35th minute. Senior midfielder Addison Burgher launched a precise diagonal cross forward, which found the path of senior midfielder Aaleigha Weld. Weld displayed her finesse, slotting the ball into the top corner of the net, giving the Elma Eagles a 1-0 lead.
Despite their best efforts, the Cruisers were unable to break through Elma's resilient defense and find an equalizer. Eatonville's interim Head Coach Machaela Swartout expressed her pride in the team's performance.
“It was definitely a game with a lot of different emotions, but I was really proud of the way the girls battled,” Swartout said.
The Cruisers had opportunities, especially in the second half, but they couldn't find the back of the net.
Prior to the game, the community came together to honor the eight seniors in a touching pregame ceremony. Kyleigh Backlund, Ella Gendreau, Nikia King, Kennedy Noble, Davany Olson, Alexa Ricketts, Ryan Stammen, and Hannah Zaragoza were recognized for their commitment and dedication to the Cruiser soccer team.
With the No. 3 seed secured, the Cruisers traveled to Vancouver on Tuesday. There, they will face the No. 2-seeded Seton Catholic Pirates in a crucial loser-out/winner to state game at 6 p.m.