Mount Rainier stands tall in playoff opener

FEDERAL WAY--The next step won't be easy, but the first one was a cinch.
Mount Rainier flattened Emerald Ridge, 4-1, in a game for the ninth and final South Puget Sound League girls soccer berth into the West Central District playoffs Tuesday, and now the Rams must face the Narrows League champion in a 2 p.m. Saturday game at the Stadium Bowl in Tacoma.

Mount Rainier head coach Zach Taylor was more than happy with how the playoff opener went down against Emerald Ridge, however.

"We had a good plan coming in," said Taylor of the rain-soaked match at Federal Way Memorial. "We wanted to play our style."

The Rams fought off the Jaguars for a 1-0 lead going into the half, then exploded for three goals in the second half before Emerald Ridge got on the scoreboard with its lone goal.

It took a save by Mount Rainier defender Jessica Thornton standing alone in the goal box with the goalie out to keep the Jaguars from scoring first with 21:30 to play in the first half.

Jessica Martini scored the Rams' first goal with 6:14 remaining in the half, sailing a shot from way out on the right side over the Emerald Ridge goalie and into the left corner of the net.

Next up to score was Kaitlin Freeburg of the Rams at the 35:23 mark of the second half.

Freeburg drove past the last defender and knocked the ball into the right side of the net.

Martini and Freeburg got together for the third goal with 30:20 to play. Martini assisted Freeburg, who found the right corner.

Martini scored from up close on the left side to widen the Mount Rainier lead to 4-0 with 26:32 to play, then Emerald Ridge scored the final goal with 24:49 remaining.

Lexi Turner did the honors for the Jaguars, bumping the ball into the back of the net.

Emerald Ridge came close again at 10:20 to go, with a shot bouncing straight up off the crossbar.

"Emerald Ridge is a good team," said coach Taylor. "Our midfield was brilliant tonight."

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