Trailing 1-0 in the second half of a critical home match, Arbor View’s girls soccer team figured it could rely on its eight seniors to spark a comeback bid.
Instead, that spark came from an unexpected pair of freshmen.
Breanna Larkin headed home a corner kick by Jamie Wilson in the 53rd minute to help Arbor View rally for a 1-1 tie against visiting Centennial on Thursday and stay in the hunt for first place in the crowded Northwest League.
“We’re a really old team. We haven’t been down a lot this year, but we’ve still been able to come back and press,” Arbor View coach Jay Howard said. “I was proud that we were able to do that. Did I think the freshmen were going to be the ones to come through? Well, no. But they really did it.”
The Aggies (7-1-2, 6-1-1 Northwest) dominated possession with an 8-3 shots advantage in the first half, but Centennial’s Tiana Bonds took advantage of an Arbor View defensive lapse to strike home a goal in the 31st minute and give the Bulldogs the halftime edge.
Aggies’ standout McKenzie Karas had just gone down with a leg injury, and Bonds used the confusion to slot home a misdirected ball past Arbor View goalkeeper Kyla Salazar.
The Aggies held Centennial (5-2-1, 5-2-1) to two shots on goal in the first 40 minutes, but goalkeeper Natalie Gilbertson made four saves to help the Bulldogs to the lead.
Kelsey Thein nearly made it 2-0 for Centennial only eight minutes after the break, but her header off a Nikki Romero corner kick skimmed over the crossbar.
Five minutes later, Wilson came off the bench to take a kick from the left corner, and the freshman who started the year on the Aggies’ junior varsity squad found classmate Larkin, who buried a running header into the top left corner.
“I thought to set it right on the PK spot; that’s it,” Wilson said. “It feels good knowing that I could help with the tying goal, and knowing that we had a chance to come back and win it.”
Centennial opened up its attack in the second half, putting up seven shots after the break. But only two shots were on frame, and Salazar saved both, including a scrambling save on a free kick by Romero from 20 yards away.
“We felt like we were pressing the whole game,” Howard said. “Centennial is a great team and had its moments, but I felt like we pressed. We had the injury, and I don’t think we responded well for about 10 minutes. But then we started playing again.”
Arbor View outshot Centennial 8-6 in the second half, including a 4-2 edge in shots on goal. The Bulldogs were playing without forward Siena Drizin, who sat out with a hamstring injury.
Wilson added a last-gasp effort in the final minute for Arbor View, but her shot from just inside 50 yards ricocheted off the crossbar.
“We knew it was coming,” Wilson said of the tying goal. “There was anticipation. We were all nervous, and we just wanted to see the girls out on the field score.”