The love these Camas girls soccer players have for each other goes beyond any state championship or third-place finish.
“We’re a sisterhood. We don’t just say that. We mean it,” said team captain Perri Belzer. “After every practice, we’re thanking each other for being there because we all genuinely want to be there, and we want to be a family and we want to be together as one. I think that’s a special thing.”
Although the Papermakers dreamed of playing for another state title last weekend in Puyallup, Issaquah bested them 3-1 in the semifinals Friday. Less than 12 hours later, Camas came back to Sparks Stadium and defeated Kennedy Catholic 2-1 for third place.
“A lot of people don’t want to play for third and fourth. We all went into it like, ‘Let’s play like it’s the final,'” said junior forward Jazzlynn Paulson. “Let’s get third. That’s all we can do right now. Let’s do it for the seniors. It’s their last game. Why not have fun and enjoy the moment?”
Paulson scored a goal in the opening minutes of the second half to get Camas on the board. After assisting on Paulson’s point, Callie Rheaume delivered an insurance goal of her own to give the Papermakers a 2-0 cushion.
“(Coach) Minder said we needed to attack at all costs,” Rheaume said. “It’s our last 40 minutes. Play as hard as you can and leave it all out on the field. That’s what we tried to do.”
Belzer, Kierstyn Heilbrun, Aliya Ponder and Falissitie DePasquale were happy to wrap up their high school careers with a victory. Belzer, Heilbrun and Ponder helped the CHS girls soccer program win a state championship in 2016 and finish third in 2015 and 2017.
“It’s rare for people to be able to play on one Final Four team. The fact that we got to play on three is just amazing,” Heilbrun said. “I feel really lucky. Every single team was so different, but we all came together and had a great experience every single time.”
DePasquale collected 42 saves as the starting goalkeeper this season. Camas surrendered only one goal during league play and five in the playoffs.
“Just us trusting each other in the back. I think that helped a lot, instead of being stressed and doubting each other,” DePasquale said.
“Getting back to the Final Four again this year, after replacing 10 seniors, shows just how much we have improved this year,” she added. “I think it just made us even closer.”
Although Belzer was unanimously voted as team captain coming into this season, each senior evolved into a leader on the field.
“We only had one captain, and that was Perri, but Minder expected all of us to do the same as Perri and be an example to everybody else,” Ponder said.
“Minder always says, ‘You’re one team. How you all work together is going to determine how far you’re going to get,'” she added. “All these friendships I’ve made over the last three years is the best thing I could have ever asked for.”
The Papermakers set some new program records along the way. Maddie Kemp collected 41 goals and 13 assists. She broke Lisa Hogan’s 2000 to 2003 career scoring record of 81 goals. Kemp has 88 goals, and she’s just a junior. Paulson delivered 19 assists and nine goals. She broke the season assist record of 15, which was set by Hogan in 2003 and matched by Olivia Lovell in 2009. Jenna Efraimson finished the season with 13 goals and six assists. Carla Jooste added eight assists and four goals.
Belzer cherishes her freshman year because she got to play soccer with her sister, Maddy. She also never forgot that the team didn’t make it to state that year.
“The last three years have exceeded my expectations for high school soccer,” Belzer said. “I never would have imagined winning a state title and going to three Final Fours in the last four years. That’s an accomplishment we should all be proud of.”