It’s the fifth state title for the coach who led his Eagles to a 2-1 win over Central Valley in the Class 4A state title match.
PUYALLUP — Longtime Issaquah girls soccer coach Tom Bunnell insisted nothing had been accomplished after his team turned back Camas in the Class 4A state semifinals on Friday night.
“We haven’t won anything yet,” he told his players as they celebrated after the semifinal. “We still have work to do.”
A day later, it’s time to celebrate.
Senior forward Mariah Van Halm notched her 22nd goal of the season, and it was the game-winner as Issaquah rallied from a goal down to send the retiring Bunnell off a winner with a 2-1 triumph over Central Valley of Spokane in the Class 4A state-championship match on Saturday at Sparks Stadium.
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First there were a few happy tears, especially from Van Halm, before the celebration began in earnest after the Eagles (20-2) shut down the Bears (18-1) over the final 56 minutes.
“This is the greatest feeling the world. It’s the best we could do and we wanted it so badly for coach because he does so much for us and he really shapes his life around this,” said Van Halm, smiling as tears streamed down her face. “He loves us so much, and he works so hard for us. We really wanted it for him. All he has is passion.”
After trailing 1-0, the Eagles shot in front 2-1 on a pair of goals in a three-minute span. It started in the 27th minute when Catey Nelson nailed a twisting header at the right post on a pass from Van Halm, who slotted in a short shot in the 30th minute.
“This is just an unbelievable feeling, and it was very difficult for me to hold myself together there at the end,” said Bunnell, who finished his 14th season with a big-school tying fifth state crown (along with Kennedy Catholic, Shorerest and Lakeside). “It’s a great group of kids and we won two state championships together (also winning in 2015). It’s kind of like a fairy-tale storybook thing. It’s pretty cool.
“I couldn’t be any more happy. I’m overjoyed.”
Central Valley took a 1-0 lead on Kaelyn Barnes’ strike from the left side into the far corner of the net in the 24th minute. The goal came on an assist from Michael Pitts.
After that the Eagles locked down on defense.
“These kids have done two things in the state tournament, No. 1 they’ve knocked off No. 1s (seeds) across the board,” Bunnell said. “(Central Valley) came out on fire. We always say, ‘If you get scored on, the benefit of that is you get to score a goal.’ They live by that.”
• Kennedy Catholic (16-3-3) couldn’t muster quite enough offense as defending state champion Camas (17-3-2) used a goal and an assist from junior Callie Rheaume to win the third/fourth-place game 2-1. Bailey Hall scored for the Lancers.