Shaffer Bags 5 Goals, T-Birds Roll Through Hockinson in District Opener


TUMWATER — The arrival of the postseason, and a raising of the stakes threw the Tumwater girls soccer team on the back foot for all of about five minutes, before the Thunderbirds hit the groove they’ve been in all fall long in a 6-0 win over Hockinson in the first round of the 2A District 4 tournament.

“Our kids have been intense all year,” Tumwater coach Brett Bartlett said. “We just had to let them know that the competition is going to get stiffer and stiffer. We practice doing hard things because it’s not going to get any easier, you just get better at doing hard things well.”

The win puts Tumwater a game away from the state tournament; the T-Birds can clinch their spot Tuesday, against the winner of W.F. West’s match against Ridgefield.

Hockinson — the first 2A GSHL team the T-Birds faced this season — held possession early, but all that ended up doing in the grand scheme of things was allowing its back line to creep up, at which point Tumwater’s wings wreaked absolute havoc on the counter attack.

Ava Jones showed the first flash of what was to come in the sixth minute, when she got behind the Hawks, but had a one-on-one shot denied by a good save from Hockinson keeper Ashley Suva. The chances only continued, before one led to a corner kick that Tumwater cashed in on in the 10th minute, when Sophie Boatright one-timed a shot off the bounce at the back post.

From there, it was all T-Birds. In the 17th minute, Jones tracked down an overhit pass at the touch line, beat her defender to the goal line, cut in, and drew a low cross back to the penalty spot, where Emalyn Shaffer put it home.

Jones finished with three assists on the game, could have had another but for a waved-off goal in the 22nd minute, and spent just about the entire afternoon giving her markers a good view of the number on her back.

“She is a very technical player,” Bartlett said. “She can play the ball with either foot, she dribbles well, she attacks, she likes to attack. And she’s got extreme speed. She’s an elite sprinter as well. That makes things difficult, because you’ve got a kid who’s a state champion as a freshman in track, and they’ve got to keep up with that.”

Shaffer was the beneficiary of all three of Jones’ assists. She also converted a first-half penalty kick and slotted one more home off a through ball up the middle to finish with five goals total, working in front of goal.

“She’s the hammer,” Bartlett said. “She just works hard. She’s fast, she’s physical, she just works hard, and she doesn’t give up on a thing.”

By the end of the match, the T-Birds were defending with possession, keeping the ball on the right side of the pitch to keep the Hawks away from anything resembling an attack. But early on, and during a few flashes of Hockinson pressure, the Tumwater back line had all the answers.

Keeper Sydney Woods finished with just two saves, and aside from cleaning up a few long balls, spent most of the afternoon with a good seat to the attacking show, as her defense dealt with just about anything resembling trouble.

“They stay really well connected,” Bartlett said. “They talk to each other a lot, they’re very smart defenders. They don’t make a lot of silly decisions, but when they do make a decision that doesn’t work out, they cover for each other well, and our midfield works hard to cover there, which is super helpful as well.”