Grizzlies ‘Walker’ to Northern 4A girls soccer title
When the Galena High girls soccer team began practice back in August, coach Ron Jones knew he had some reloading to do with a number of new faces.
Among those new faces was freshman forward Elizabeth Walker – or Libby, as she prefers to be called. She may be known as a heart breaker to the McQueen Lancers after scoring two goals that helped Galena post a 2-0 in the Northern 4A Regional girls soccer championship match Saturday afternoon at Carson High.
Walker broke up a scoreless duel with a goal in the 24th minute, assisted by older sister Abbie Walker, then added an insurance score in the 71st minute, assisted by Shari Worthington, to help the Grizzlies knock off defending regional champion McQueen.
“First of all, I want to say we tip our hats to McQueen. What a great job by those kids. To lose 10 or 11 seniors from last year like they did, then come back and nearly repeat as champions, that’s remarkable,” Jones said.
“As for our team, we also lost 11 seniors, but these kids really came together,” he went on. “They set this as their goal at the start of the year, then they went out, worked hard, stayed together as a unit, and accomplished their goal. They’ve been a great team to coach … they’re best of friends, they trust one another and they’ll go out and doing anything for one another.”
The two teams fought to a tie early in the season, then McQueen won 2-1 on the final day of the regular season to secure the High Desert League’s No. 1 seed (they finished as co-league champions with identical 11-1-2 records). The Walker sisters both left the field with injuries during that latter meeting, but they were very evident on Saturday.
For Libby Walker, the two goals gave her 25 for the season overall.
“She’s an opportunist,” Jones said of the freshman forward. “She understands the game and a freshman, she is precocious and has a way of putting herself in the right place at the right time.”
Give credit to a Galena defense that allowed only one goal in three tournament games, two of which went to overtime. The Grizzlies opened with a 2-1 overtime win against Carson, then outlasted Douglas 1-0 in a semifinal that was decided in a six-round shoot-out.
“Abbie Walker is an outstanding player,” Jones said of the junior stopper. “She did a great job today of controlling the high defensive third … Alyse Iverson (right side defense) played so solid … Amy Leggett cleared out a lot of balls … and Caitlin Anderson, in my own mind, is the best keeper in the league.”
Anderson, a junior, was credited with six saves on a day when the Grizzlies outshot McQueen 15-12.
The Lancers had two good shots in the 14th minute, one of which caromed off the goalpost, before Chelsea Mazza cleared the ball out of danger for the Grizzlies.
Note … Galena defeated Carson 1-0 to win the Northern 4A girls soccer championship in 1999.