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Force Strikes Twice For Evergreen

October 14, 2004

Olympia, WA - Kimberly Force netted two goals for Evergreen last night including a game-winning header on a cross from Meaghan McNealy to lift the Geoducks past Warner Pacific in Cascade Conference play. With the win Evergreen continues a six game streak without a conference loss, including a 0-0 tie with Concordia University who began the week as the #4 team in the nation.

"We said at the beginning of the season that our goal was to improve every week, to keep playing better and better soccer as the season progressed," said Evergreen head coach Erik Gibson-Snyder. "We are doing that and it is paying off with some good conference results."

Evergreen jumped on the board less than two minutes into the game as Kaylen Kelley took a throw-in from McNealy, dribbled through a soft Knight defense, and slipped a perfect shot past goalkeeper Danielle Bernhardt. The goal was Kelley's fifth of the season and second in two games.

Play was stopped about 15 minutes into the game when McNealy won a header in the defensive end and in the process crashed heads with a Warner Pacific player. The Knight was slow to get off the ground and ended up having to leave the match. The collision sparked tensions in the game and brought the Warner Pacific team to life.

The Knights gained some momentum as the half wore on outshooting the Geoducks six to four in the period, and knotted the game just before half time. With Evergreen unable to clear a Knight free kick, Tara Tinner put a close range shot off the hands of Geoduck goalkeeper Carly Stewart and into the goal.

"We were pretty upset at half time," said Gibson-Snyder. "The girls were unhappy with some of the calls, unhappy that we allowed a goal to end the half. The game had a lot of emotion in it. It felt like a playoff game. We talked about great teams overcoming adversity, about managing emotion and using it positively. In some ways we did that well. In some areas we have some more improving to do."

Evergreen came into the second half and turned that emotion into strong attacking play immediately applying pressure on the Warner Pacific goal. The work paid off just over three minutes into the half when McNealy played the ball into the left corner to Kelley who was fouled by the Knights' defense. McNealy crossed the ensuing free kick into the box to Kimberly Force who rose above the crowd to drive a powerful header past the helpless Bernhardt. The goal was Force's third on the year.

Warner Pacific refused to give in, however, and through the speedy attacking of Tara Tinner put some pressure on the Evergreen defense.

"Our backs played their best game of the season," said Gibson-Snyder. "Especially freshmen Lena Iishi and Willa Purser. They were organized and intelligent, they cleared balls well and played some very good passes forward. And they needed to play their best game because Tinner really was a dangerous attacking player."

After netting the tying goal in the first half, it appeared Tinner would create a tie again when she dribbled into the Evergreen end and slipped a ball to a teammate Shawna Fallon at the far post. Stewart raced Fallon for the ball, but chose to push Fallon from behind giving up a penalty kick in the process.

"That was one of those times where we need to be more professional in handling our emotions," said Gibson-Snyder. "We had the game in control, but Carly had a run-in with that player earlier in the game. Instead of playing the ball she took an unnecessary foul. By losing her composure she nearly let them back into the game and put our playoff hopes in jeopardy."

But the ensuing penalty shot was put wide by Toni Hart letting Stewart and the Geoducks off the hook.

Evergreen got an insurance goal when Force scored her second goal of the match in the 62nd minute. Force took a nice pass from reserve forward Lisa Leadon and beat Bernhardt from 15 yards.

"Lisa has been a real positive for us the past few weeks," said Gibson-Snyder. "She is a terrific athlete and she does the simple things well. Laying the ball back like she did on that assist is something on which we have been working hard. It was nice to see it pay off for her."

The excitement wasn't over, however, as the Knights pushed in to the Geoduck end late in the game and forced their second penalty kick of the evening when Jamie Doran tripped a Knight attacker in the box. Stewart made amends for her earlier mistake as she saved the penalty shot that was placed down the center of the goal to preserve the 3-1 score line.

With the win the Geoducks climb back into second place in the conference standings, a half-game ahead of Eastern Oregon and two games behind Concordia. Evergreen will travel to Portland again Saturday to face winless Cascade College before heading to eastern Oregon and Albertson to close out the regular season.