LC girls soccer

Lynden’s Christian's Libby Hielkema was selected first-team All-State in Class 1A. (Nick Elges/Lynden Tribune)

EVERSON — Lynden Christian girls soccer earned its fourth straight shutout victory by beating Nooksack Valley 6-0 on Friday.

To say scoring a goal against the Lyncs has been a tough task so far this fall would be an understatement. LC hasn’t allowed an opponent to find the back of the net since the team’s season-opening 3-0 loss to Sehome on Sept. 5.

According to head coach Brent De Ruyter, the team’s success has hinged on a deep roster that features a combined 15 freshmen and sophomores — versus just seven upperclassmen.

"Our depth has really mattered,” De Ruyter said. “Defensively, we’ve just had people step up. The team has embraced the mindset you need to have. They’ve done a fantastic job and haven’t shown their youth at all.”

During the streak, the Lyncs have earned 5-0 victories over Mount Baker and Blaine and managed a hard-fought 2-0 showing over Anacortes on Sept. 12. Couple those score lines with Friday’s victory and LC has outscored its opponents 18-3 so far in 2017.

De Ruyter said seven different players have already scored a goal this season for LC. 

That scoring diversity was on display in the game against the Pioneers. Freshman Emily Mellema got the Lyncs going with a goal in the third minute with seniors Bailee Den Bleyker and Emily Roetcisoender assisting. Den Bleyker added a score in the 13th minute before freshman Kiley Roetcisoender got one past the Pioneers in minute 21. Junior standout Libby Hielkema assisted on both goals.

Emily Roetcisoender scored an unassisted goal in the 45th minute before Hielkema found sophomore Shyann Brandsma one minute later. Mellema scored on an assist from Brandsma in minute 51 to finish the Lyncs’ scoring barrage.

When it comes to Hielkema, who has scored a team-leading four goals this season, the junior is without question the spark plug for Lynden Christian.

“She’s a spotlight out there,” De Ruyter said. “She’s just a firecracker for us — incredibly tough. Right now she’s upset because she’s not finishing the way she wants to, but that will come.”

Against Nooksack Valley, LC also displayed the ability to control the ball and hold possession for long periods of time.

“We have always preached possession, but with this crew we have the ability to possess and we have some speed,” De Ruyter said. “That makes it tougher for teams to defend us.”

Keeping teams out of the Lyncs’ net and highlighting the team’s youth is freshman Ellie Van Hulzen, who has earned the victory in all four of LC’s shutouts. No matter who is stepping up for the team on any given day, the coaching staff preaches a team-first mentality. “We can’t be about one person,” De Ruyter said. 

De Ruyter credited the program’s influx of talented young players to the county’s youth soccer clubs, such as North County Alliance and the Whatcom FC Rangers.

Even prior to his team’s hot start, De Ruyter had high expectations of his group after a successful summer of battling teams from higher classifications.

“We had a chance to see some things during the summer, battling with 3A and 4A teams in Wenatchee,” De Ruyter said. “To almost get a couple of wins against teams of that caliber said a lot. I knew then that this would be a special group.”

Breaking the Lyncs’ strong play down, the coach recognizes the “un-coachable” traits that his players hold.

“The girls are gritty and understand the game,” De Ruyter said. “We have a lot of young players who have played a lot of soccer at a lot of different levels. We are feeling the blessings of a lot of things right now.”

Lynden Christian hosted Lynden in a cross-town showdown on Tuesday, winning 3-1. The Lyncs (5-1, 3-0 NWC) are at Sedro-Woolley on Thursday for an 8 p.m. matchup.

Nooksack Valley (0-3-1, 0-3 NWC) was at Burlington-Edison on Tuesday, losing 8-0. The Pioneers host Ferndale on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. The team plays all of its home games at Nooksack Elementary School.

Meridian 4, Lynden 3

LYNDEN — Meridian squeaked past Lynden in a key Northwest Conference at Bender Fields on Thursday.

Senior Sierra Smith found the net for Lynden in the 14th minute to give the Lions a 1-0 advantage — Ellsie Saldivar assisted on the goal. The Trojans came back with two quick goals — both by junior Mal Mack — to take the lead in the 19th minute.

“Mali had an especially good game getting forward into the attack and then hustling back to cement our back line. Super effort on her part,” said Meridian head coach Paula French.

The Lions tied things up with a goal by Amanda Mata (Saldivar on the assist) in the 29th minute. Freshman Jenna Smith, the younger sister of Sierra, gave Lynden a 3-2 lead as Saldivar picked up her third assist of the game. Meridian scored in the 37th minute (junior Lindsey Moore) to knot the match at three goals apiece before halftime.

Emily Kirkman, one of Meridian’s two seniors, found the net in the 58th minute to provide what turned out to be the deciding score as Meridian won 4-3.

Lynden had previously shut out Meridian 4-0 on Sept. 5, although the Lions ended up having to forfeit that game for using an ineligible player.

“I was pleased with our effort this game,” French said. “We committed to winning 50/50 balls and did a better job of keeping possession until we were able to generate chances to score.”

Meridian (3-0-2, 2-0 Northwest Conference) played host to Sedro-Woolley on Tuesday (for results, see www.lyndentribune.com). The Trojans play Squalicum at Phillips 66 Soccer Park on Friday at 5 p.m.

Lynden (0-6, 0-3 NWC) matched up with Lynden Christian on Tuesday, losing 3-1. The Lions host Burlington-Edison on Thursday at 4 p.m.

Burlington-Edison 5, Mount Baker 0

DEMING — The Mounties were in search of their first victory of the season on Thursday, but came up short against the Class 2A Tigers.

Mount Baker (0-6, 0-3 Northwest Conference) was at Ferndale on Tuesday, losing 7-0. The Mounties host Blaine on Thursday at 4:30 p.m. and play Sehome at Phillips 66 Soccer Park on Monday at 4:45 p.m.