The Gladiators top La Salle 3-1 in their Capital Conference league final

GLADSTONE - Gladstone High School coeds took care of business in last week's showdown with La Salle for the Capital Conference girls soccer crown.

The Glads prevailed 3-1, and with the victory they locked up their first league championship since 2003.

It was a complete turnaround from a Sept. 28 game between the two teams, where La Salle gave the Gladiators all they could handle en route to scoreless tie.

'We dominated most of the game,' Gladstone coach Steve Thomas said of last week's contest. 'For 60 minutes, we just pounded them. They pounded us for maybe the last 15 minutes, but [except for a penalty kick] they didn't really threaten.'

Thomas had his Gladiators with a 14-4 advantage in shots on-goal and a 4-0 advantage in corner kicks.

'The difference [from the first time we played them] was the girls were loose,' said Thomas. 'The seniors have only lost three games on our home field in four years and they were confident….

'Team play was the key. We beat them because we played as a team playing against a team of skilled individuals who played as individuals.'

The Gladiator soccer boss said that the outcome would have been even more one-sided, except that many of the shots taken by his charges were fired directly at La Salle keeper Dolores Lyons.

Still, Thomas admitted, 'They're the best team we've played all year.'

Alyssa Beykovsky struck first blood for the Gladiators, as she found the net late in the first half. Emily Tsugawa passed the ball to Beykovsky, who missed on her initial attempt. The ball was batted around and Beykovsky stuck around to finish things off.

Tsugawa made it 2-0 Gladstone 10 minutes into the second half. Beykovsky stole the ball from a Falcon and sent a gap pass ahead to Tsugawa, who cracked the ball home from the right side.

Amy Skofstad made it 3-0 Gladstone when she fired just inside the front post on a free kick taken from 25 yards out.

The Falcons then fired up and got the best of the play the rest of the way. Alle MaCleod's penalty kick with five minutes remaining foiled the shutout.

Skofstad, Gladstone's anchor on defense, had a rough night. The Gladiator senior leader spent nearly 30 minutes on the bench, fighting off an asthma attack.

Thomas heaped praise on Skofstad, Katie Oleksak and Beykovsky for their inspired play on defense.

The contest featured two of the state's top goalies. Lyons has been in-goal most of the season for La Salle and through the Gladstone game the Falcons had allowed 14 opponents only seven goals. Gladstone keeper Megan Holter had allowed 13 opponents only six goals, and two of those goals came on penalty kicks. Holter has nine shutouts.

The Gladiators continued on track on Oct. 25, when they capped off the regular season with a 6-0 shutout of North Marion. Emily Tsugawa scored four times in the rout, bringing her season offensive totals to 21 goals and five assists.

Gladstone finished the regular season with an 11-0-1 record in the Capital Conference and a 13-0-1 record overall. La Salle finished 9-1-2 in league and 11-1-2 overall.

Gladstone enters the state playoffs ranked second in the state; La Salle enters the playoffs ranked fourth.

'We look forward to having the home field advantage for at least two playoffs games,' said Thomas. 'The girls are very comfortable on their home field.

Gladstone will host Blanchet, Baker or Ontario in its 4A/3A/2A/1A state playoff opener on Tuesday, Nov. 7. La Salle will begin the playoffs on Nov. 7, when the Falcons meet the top seed from District 4 on the road.

'I'm extremely confident in our defense,' said Thomas. 'They're going to be tough for any team to score on. If our offense continues to play the way they have in our last few games, I think we can play with anyone in the state.'

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