Nikayla Copenhaver scored twice as the Patriots overcame an early 1-0 deficit to beat the Mariners 4-1.
It’s rare that going down a goal early is a benefit for a team.
But it might have been just what the Liberty girls soccer team needed.
The Patriots fell behind 1-0 in the first 10 minutes, but netted four unanswered goals, with two coming from junior Nikayla Copenhaver, as Liberty clinched its second consecutive Class 2A state title with a 4-1 victory over Sehome Saturday night at Shoreline Stadium.
“It just made me want to come out harder,” Copenhaver said. “Their goal really set us into gear. This just goes to show how this team can come back in the face of adversity.”
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Olivia Boehm got Sehome of Bellingham on the scoreboard in the 10th minute. Copenhaver netted her first goal in stoppage time of the first half to head into the break tied 1-1.
The junior forward added another goal in the 52nd minute to give Liberty (17-2-2) its first lead of the contest. Chloe Mendoza scored for the Patriots in the 59th minute, and junior Myka Carr added another goal in stoppage time to put an exclamation point on Liberty’s title defense.
“I’m super proud of them, going down a goal, and then being able to come back,” Liberty coach Tami Nguyen said. “It really shows their character. It obviously takes character to repeat for a second title, but I feel like that was on display today.”
After losing a big group of seniors, including last year’s state soccer MVP Makena Carr who now plays for the University of Washington, Copenhaver stepped up to fill the scoring void for the Patriots. The junior had 16 goals and 17 assists.
“She’s come up big for us all year,” Nguyen said. “Other teams have targeted her and had people around her. … But she’s been a tremendous leader for us this year, and she certainly came up big today.”
Saturday’s win was Liberty’s second this month over Sehome (19-3). The Patriots topped Sehome 1-0 in the Class 2A Northwest District championship game on Nov. 3, snapping a 16-game winning streak for the Mariners.
The Patriots finished second in state in 2016 and third the year before to cap an impressive four-year run.
Copenhaver is already eager for the Patriots to attempt a title defense again in 2019.
“I’m just really excited to come out next year and see if we can get it three times in a row,” Copenhaver said with a laugh. “It’s not a goal from the beginning to be like, ‘OK, our goal is to be state champs this year.’ But, to just keep improving and keep believing in our game. And if we do that, success will come.”
- La Salle beat King’s Way Christian in a shootout to win the Class 1A title.
- St. George’s of Spokane won the Class B girls title, beating Kalama 2-0.
- Prescott won the Class B boys title, beating Orcas Island 2-0.