Papermakers soccer host district title game Wednesday

Resilient team wins league

Camas forward Cameron Eyman kicks the soccer ball between three defenders and out of reach of the goalkeeper Thursday, at McKenzie Stadium. The Papermakers defeated the Union Titans 1-0 and became league champions.

The Camas High School boys soccer team beat Skyview, Battle Ground, Heritage, Evergreen and Union during the last two weeks to become league champions.

“It’s all about resiliency and mental toughness,” said head coach Roland Minder. “These guys gave everything they had, and together they made history.”

Minder couldn’t have been more proud after the Papermakers defeated the Union Titans 1-0 Thursday, at McKenzie Stadium. The game remained scoreless for 60 minutes until Cameron Eyeman put the perfect spin on the soccer ball and sent it past three defenders, out of reach of the goalkeeper and into the back of the net.

“I looked up, saw the far post and said that’s where it’s going to go,” Eyeman said. “Once I saw it sail past the keeper, I was the happiest man on Earth.”

Union picked up the intensity on offense, but Camas held firm on defense. The Papermakers cleared the ball out of danger with headers and kicks. Goalkeeper Sharif Batroukh snagged some big saves.

Camas fired a few more shots from close range, but couldn’t get the ball past the opposing goalkeeper. After every miss or lost possession, the Papermakers had to hustle back down the field and defend.

“When you’re a goal up, you need to know how to close out games,” Minder said. “That’s when you really need concentration and focus. You can’t slip up.”

Or the victory can slip right through your fingers. It happens to the best teams, but it didn’t happen to the Papermakers Thursday.

“It’s a surreal feeling to be league champions our first year in 4A,” said senior midfielder Houston Taie. “Nobody thought we could do it. I guess we proved them wrong.”

Taie thought back to the 2-1 victory Camas earned on the road at Bonney Lake on March 30. He said that was the first time they came from behind to win a game. Camas also rallied to defeat Skyview 4-2 on April 19. Evergreen and Union played to a tie on the same day. That’s when the Papermakers realized they still had a shot.

“After those first two losses [to Skyview and Union], we were thinking second or third place. You never know you’re going to be back into it,” said junior forward Nate Beasley. “We’ve had the opportunity to make up for the mistakes we made earlier. Not everybody gets a chance to do that.”

The Papermakers celebrated Thursday, but Minder doesn’t want them to be satisfied.

“This is just the end of league play and the beginning of playoffs,” he said. “We have a lot more work to do.”

Camas (12-4) and Union will play again in the district championship game Wednesday, at Doc Harris Stadium. Kick off is at 7 p.m.

“I like how much we fight,” Beasley said. “We only have three seniors and one of them is injured. It makes the sophomores and juniors want to step up. We are all a captain and we all have a say in this team.”