Black Hills High School senior Bella Brown pauses, briefly mulling over two options before providing an answer to the question.
“I’m not going to lie, I do like to score. I mean, everyone likes to score, right?” replied Brown moments after being asked if she would rather kick in the game-winning goal herself or assist on the victorious shot. “But for me, I like assisting more. It’s so much better when everyone is able to get involved.”
If Brown’s ideal scenario is helping teammates find the back of the net, she is definitely on the right team. The Wolves have goal scorers to spare this season and are piling up the points at a feverish pace as they charge to another 2A Evergreen Conference championship.
Brown is one of 11 seniors on this year’s Black Hills’ roster. It’s a group, many of who are four-year starters at the school, that has played together for years and one that has helped the Wolves set records and reach new program heights.
Offensively, this senior class is overflowing with talent. Brown was one of five players in her class to earn first- or second-team all-conference distinction last year on the offensive side of the ball.
Brown was a first-team pick, along with forward Megan Lowe and midfielder Sydney Lowe, who was also recognized as the EvCo’s Offensive Player of the Year in 2016, while forwards Emma Lindsay and Rylee Flahaut both received second-team honors.
They have been even more dominating this year, scoring three or more goals in nine out of their first 12 matches in 2017 to take full control of the conference.
“We just know what each other is thinking out there. I’ve been playing with the Megan and Sydney since we were 10,” Brown said. “We’ve been playing so long together I just know where they’re going to be on the field. There is a lot of speed with them. Sometimes I will make a pass and think maybe it’s going to be out of reach, but they will get on the end of it.”
It’s that kind of familiarity that as Black Hills on the cusp of claiming its first conference championship since 2015.
The Wolves’ offense has simply run roughshod through EvCo competition this season, putting up six or more goals in shutout wins over Aberdeen, Rochester and W.F. West, a half dozen scores in a 6-1 defeat of Centralia and most impressively, a 7-1 drubbing of defending conference champion Tumwater.
Brown closed out the first month of the season by being named the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association’s Athlete of the Week.
The Wolves went a perfect 3-0 during that timeframe, and Brown had her fingerprints all over the offensive action, having a hand in six of the 13 goals her team managed to score during the three-match set. She had a goal and an assist against Mark Morris, two goals and an assist against W.F. West and assisted on a goal off a corner kick to help Black Hills win 3-2 over Skyview.
“Bella is a giving person. I know outside of soccer she goes on multiple missions a year outside of the country to help support families and build communities,” said Black Hills coach James Corbin. “She’s amazing. There’s nothing, but great things to say about her.
Two years ago as sophomores, Brown and her classmates played a large role in Black Hills notching the first state playoff victory in program history with a 6-4 defeat of Highline in the first round.
They are not only looking to duplicate that feat, but surpass it this year.
“I think we have a very similar class to what we had two years ago. They had a really strong class and we were able to learn from them when we were sophomores,” Brown said. “When they left (last year) it was kind of hard to adjust to that. We knew we were going to have such a big senior class and we wanted to continue what they started. I believe we’ve helped change the culture of the program and the environment of the team.”
The Wolves saw their streak of three consecutive trips to the Class 2A state playoffs snapped last year after coming up just short during the district tournament.
“I think the biggest difference this year is I am seeing my teammates all step into leadership roles. Leading by example is the most important things to us,” Brown said. “We talked a lot at the start of the year that we have to hold each other accountable. We’re striving for a state championship.”
The Wolves finished 2A Evergreen Conference play with a 10-0 record and are the conference’s No. 1 seed heading into district play. Their first playoff game on at home on Saturday, October 28 at 7:00 p.m. against R.A. Long (Longview).