PUYALLUP — If there’s a big match in high-school girls soccer in Washington, neighboring KingCo 4A rivals Skyline and Issaquah are likely involved.
Sometimes both are involved as the programs have been the measure of success for parts of three decades. Even on opposite sides, they have lifted each other up.
Skyline moved to the top of heap with its state-record sixth big-school state title (3A or 4A), bettering Issaquah 2-0 behind a pair of penalty-kick goals on Saturday evening in the Class 4A state championship match at Sparks Stadium.
It was the third meeting — and a third Skyline win — in a state-championship match between the two schools, which are located about 6½ miles apart. Skyline bested Issaquah 1-0 in the Class 4A championship match in 2012 and 2-1 in the title tilt in 2009.
“We always get hyped to play Issaquah,” said senior forward Sophie Zhang, who gave the Spartans a 1-0 lead in the 21st minute. “Even though we’d beaten them two times, we were excited for the game and ready to go at it. We worked really hard, and I’m just proud of all my teammates.”
The Spartans (20-0-1), who finished with the most wins in school history, went ahead 2-0 in the 73rd minute on Ashley Roni’s penalty kick. Roni went to the far right corner of the net to give her team a cushion, converting after she was fouled by Issaquah’s Ella Benders in the penalty area.
Zhang’s first conversion seemed to settle Skyline: “You just have to go for it. We’d done this so many times. It’s a mental thing trying to stay undefeated.”
Issaquah (14-5-0) made its 13th appearance in a state-title match, but the disappointment of not bringing home the top trophy was evident.
Skyline entered the rivalry on Saturday with a 21-11-4 series lead over Issaquah since it heated up in 2004. Both had won five state titles apiece heading into Saturday’s final.
“Tonight is really about these girls that have done more than any Skyline team ever,” said Skyline coach Don Braman, who is in his 19th season and has been a part of all six state crowns. “It’s just ridiculous the number of goals they’ve scored. I think it’s 20 goals in the state tournament alone and almost 100 in the season.
“This is just one of the best Skyline teams ever, certainly one of the best teams in the state and, I would argue, if not the best in the country.”
The Spartans outscored opponents 99-12 this season and posted 13 shutouts.
“The fact that we’ve come through Issaquah to get that [sixth state title] means everything, because those girls over there work so hard to be part of it,” Braman said. “They are a tough team. It’s so hard to ask a team like ours to beat someone else three times, much less your rivals. It’s truly amazing.”
Six big-school programs — Issaquah, Bellarmine Prep, Lakeside, Kennedy Catholic, Shorecrest and Skyline — had won five state titles each.
“We told the girls before that this would be a tight one and they knew it,” Braman said. “We never expected it to be easy. Winning like we did is a great statement as to how tough Issaquah is as a team.”
Now, Skyline stands alone.