Soccer first, sisters always

Papermaker girls soccer team opens playoffs Saturday, at Doc Harris Stadium

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Camas captains Annike Sumpter, Raya Klein and Kailee Esser (left to right) hope to lead the Papermakers back to the final four.

The Camas High School girls soccer team celebrated its league championship by scoring 16 goals last week.

Although the Papermakers had already secured first place, they still wanted to beat Kelso on their new digs at Doc Harris Stadium. Janae Benson and Ciara Klein each netted two goals, and Raya Klein added a goal and two assists, to lead Camas to a 5-0 victory over the Hilanders Oct. 26. Jamie Carter collected four saves.

On “Senior Night” Thursday, the Papermakers mopped Fort Vancouver 11-0. Raya Klein, Benson, Mary Connell, Carly Marshall, Emily Ponce, Kailee Esser, Emily Ainsworth, Annike Sumpter, Olivia Eagle, Carter and Courtney Loewen scored the goals.

In sheets of rain Monday, the Camas girls enjoyed their first postseason practice session in preparation for Saturday’s bi-district playoff. The Papermakers will host Enumclaw or Highline, at Doc Harris Stadium. Kickoff is at 2:30 p.m.

After Monday’s practice, senior captains Esser, Raya Klein and Sumpter shared their excitement for the playoffs.

“We are pumped,” Klein said. “The first postseason practice is super fun and intense. It’s like we’re on a whole different level.”

“Our goal is to go one step at a time, and win each game,” Sumpter said. “Our dream is to win a state title, but we can’t just say we’re going to do it. We have to go out there every game and prove it.”

Coming off of a third-place finish in state last season, winning league this year was an important part of Camas’ evolution.

“Through the games they have played and been through together, it gives these girls a realistic perspective of who they can be and what they can accomplish,” said head coach Roland Minder. “A league championship is nice. What’s nicer is seeding and home-field advantage in the playoffs.”

Besides winning soccer games, the ongoing goal for the Papermakers is building team unity.

“When we started playing well together, that’s what helped us win league,” Sumpter said. “If we can continue to play well together, that will help us achieve our ultimate goal of winning state.”

The name of the game for this Camas soccer team is not much different than last year. It’s a sisterhood.

“We’re soccer players first, but we’ll always be sisters,” Esser said.

“We all come from a small town,” Klein said. “We either played together or against each other.”

Together, these Papermakers captured the league championship for the first time in three seasons. Time will tell if they can become state champions for the first time since 2005.