Camas girls soccer team heads to the 4A Final Four

Golden destiny

The Camas girls soccer players shed tears of joy after defeating Mead in a shootout Saturday, at Doc Harris Stadium. The Papermakers are going to the Final Four their first year in the 4A classification.

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“This is the most amazing feeling any soccer player can ever have,” said Camas goalkeeper Lauren Rood after blocking three shots in the shootout.

A shootout loss knocked the Camas girls soccer team out of the state tournament last season. When backed into a similar situation Saturday, the Papermakers earned redemption.

Camas defeated Mead 3-1 on penalty kicks in the state quarterfinals Saturday, at Doc Harris Stadium. The win gives the Papermakers a golden opportunity to play in the Final Four.

“Not very many people thought we could make it this far our first year in 4A, but we’re in the semifinals. That shows how much heart we all have,” said senior captain Jamie Carter. “I’m really excited to be going to the Final Four with such a great group of girls. It definitely makes senior year memorable.”

It had been less than three days since the Papermakers returned home from a six-hour bus ride to Moses Lake, but they refused to give an inch to Mead in a match that went the full 90 minutes without either team scoring a goal.

“We showed no signs of slowing down. If anything, we picked up our intensity minute by minute,” said Mika Norrish, who netted the winning goal against Moses Lake. “We are all proud to say we played our hearts out on that field to the very last second.”

In the shootout, the Papermakers proved they had more left in their legs. Courtney Loewen, Emily Ponce and Rachel Gibson nailed the ball into the back of the net. Goalkeeper Lauren Rood deflected three out of the four attempts made by Mead.

“When you step up there, you feel a lot of pressure,” Rood said. “You just have to go with your gut, watch their hips and make the right decision. Then the adrenaline takes over.”

Camas was denied on its first attempt, which made Rood’s first snag critical.

“I did everything I could to match that keeper’s first save,” she said.

The next two saves were a sight to behold. Rood dove out in full extension to knock the ball away. Then she had to go the opposite direction to get to that last ball. As she swatted it away, the freshman felt lighter than a feather. Her teammates lifted her right off the ground.

“This is the most amazing feeling any soccer player can ever have,” Rood said. “That’s when you know you left everything on the field.”

The Papermakers will put it all on the line again this weekend. Camas squares off against Issaquah at 8 p.m. Friday, at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. The winning team advances to the state championship game Saturday, at 4 p.m. The losing team plays for third place at noon.

“We’re hoping for the best result we can get,” said head coach Roland Minder. “We also want to get a taste, so we can come back next year and do it all over again.”

There have been casualties on this road to redemption. Maiah Sharma, Diane Dyra, Savanna Joyce and Riley Allison suffered season-ending injuries, but these girls remain vital organs to the team’s beating heart.

“There’s a lot of positive energy coming off the bench from the girls who are hurt,” Minder said. “You bond through all the adversity and become soldiers in battle.”