The Camas and Washougal boys soccer teams had two weeks to establish their new lineups, but the now the games are about to get serious.
Tonight will mark the first league match of the season for both the Panthers and the Papermakers.
Camas (3-2) challenges Skyview, the defending 4A state champion, at Doc Harris Stadium. Washougal (2-5) welcomes R.A. Long to Fishback Stadium. Both games begin at 7 p.m.
Camas head coach Roland Minder said Skyview is the No. 1 ranked team in the Far West region by the National Soccer Coaches Association of America. If the Papermakers want to upset their longtime rivals in a game that now counts in the league standings for the first time, Minder said they are going to have to weather a storm of physical play.
“We must keep our poise and not let ourselves be intimidated by their style of play,” he said. “We will need to have good execution, not give the ball away and finish our chances.”
Washougal head coach John Tyger said R.A. Long has traditionally been tough. Although it is tempting to focus on Thursday’s match at rival Hockinson, Tyger said the Panthers cannot afford to look past any team in their league.
“Every night is going to be a fight,” he said. “We’re going to find out what we’re made of this year.”
Camas defeated Columbia River 5-0 Wednesday, at Kiggins Bowl, and Hudson’s Bay 6-0 Friday, at Doc Harris Stadium. Nate Beasley netted two goals against Columbia River. Matt Rose, Cayne Cardwell and Caleb Morrisey also made goals. Austin Cassity, Houston Taie and Cameron Eyman had the assists. Eyman delivered three goals and two assists against Hudson’s Bay. Beasley, Morrisey and Cassity knocked in the other goals.
Although the Papermakers are building some momentum just in time for league play, Minder said the game can change on a dime. Now is not the time to lose focus.
“We must also play to the final whistle,” Minder said. “Both our losses came in the last 25 seconds of a half. You might say the difference between two losses or two ties is 45 seconds.”
Washougal beat Kelso 4-2 Wednesday, at Fishback Stadium, but lost to Evergreen 2-1 Friday, at McKenzie Stadium, and Centralia 2-1 Saturday, at Fishback Stadium. Mauro Gonzalez had two goals and an assist against Kelso. Patrick Johnson added a goal at two assists, and Samuel Razumouskiy netted the last goal. Yorro Bah finished off the goal against Evergreen on an assist by Johnson. Razumouskiy scored the goal against Centralia on a pass from Riel Lord.
Tyger said the Panthers are working hard to solidify their formation on the field. The season starts for real today.
“These kids are really excited. Even though they don’t have a stellar record, they know what they need to do now and they are ready to play,” Tyger said. “They are working hard every day and they couldn’t be more dedicated to this team. Hopefully, that continues for us in league. I see no signs of it letting up.”