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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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November 22, 2008 11:22 PM

Girls Soccer: Alive and Kicking...and Shoving...and Grabbing...

Posted by Rod Mar

While most of the state's media contingent descended upon Pullman, Washington for the Crapple Cup game between Washington and Washington State, I found myself in Lakewood, just south of Tacoma for the semifinals and the finals of the high school girls state soccer tournament.

I watched some of the Apple Cup on TV, and I'm pretty sure that the soccer matches I witnessed were harder hitting and more physical.

The soccer was awesome to watch. Every girl on the field could play, and play smartly. That wasn't surprising to me. What was a bit of a shock was how rough the game is at that level.

I've photographed the boys soccer tourneys in the past, and they're not nearly as physical. I guess that should n't be surprising, given that girls basketball is often scrappier than the boys game.

Here's two frames from a play that symbolized the physicalness of the games. Everett's Annie Sittauer tries to escape the jersey hold of Seattle Prep's Ellie Harrington during the 3A girls finals as they battle for the ball.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Sittauer controls the ball and as she dribbles gets a little payback as she grabs the jersey of Harrington.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

And you thought soccer was just played with your feet and head.

Later, Harrington gets a little revenge as she gets her elbow up near the head of Everett's Hannah Hawkins in the second half.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

Skyline's Kiara Williams attempts a bicycle kick from the top of the box during the first half of the girls 4A title game and is put down by Woodinville's Adrienne Biddle (green) who was called for a foul.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

The athleticism of the game -- the combination of power and skill -- was evident all weekend. Skyline's Kiara Williams (11) battles Woodinville's Amanda Coba for control of the ball as both got up in the air.

(Nikon D3, VR 400mm/f2.8 lens @ ISO 6400, 1/500th sec.,f2.8)

By the way, the quality of these photos was just not possible even a year ago. Nikon's two new cameras -- the D3 and the D700 have amazing low-light capabilities. I've shot with other camera systems, and none of them can produce such good image quality at an ISO as high as 6400. It's so unreal it still surprised pros who have been shooting for decades (yes, that makes me kinda old -- without the "kinda").

What Nikon's success means for all photographers is that the bar has been raised yet again. The other camera companies will soon follow suit. The technological advancements just don't benefit the camera company who is in front at any given time -- it really benefits us, the photographers and gives us better tools to work with all the time.

This was a fun and exciting weekend for me -- I love photographing high school sports, and the chance to see the best of the best compete is a treat for me.

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