There’s no place like home

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Ellie Boon has scored tons of goals with her feet, but she cannot remember ever using her head.

The sophomore’s header into the net Saturday, off a corner kick from senior Amanda Acheson might have been the first. And, it propelled the Panthers one step closer to state.

“The ball was coming at waist level. I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to get my head on this,'” Boon said. “Amanda Acheson put it on a silver plate for me and said, ‘here you go, finish it.’ It’s the first header goal I’ve ever had, and it couldn’t have come at a better time.”

The corner header gave Washougal a 2-1 lead in the first round of the district playoffs Saturday, at Fishback Stadium, with 16 minutes, 15 seconds to go. Centralia rallied for several shots on goal, but the defense of Acheson, Darcy Akers, Maddie Down, Lauren Gavett, Tasha Reeves and Emily Schmid kept the Panthers on top.

Akers earned seven saves. The senior took a kick to the head late in the match, but was able to stay in and finish the game. On one of Akers’ diving saves, she hit her back on the goal post.

“I pushed the goal back about a foot,” Akers said. “I was just trying to be ready the whole time. I didn’t want to be caught off guard, so I just tried to stay on my toes and ready.”

Boon zigzagged around the field, and fired a laser past the keeper to give the Panthers a 1-0 lead in the seventh minute of the match. Then, the nerves kicked in for Washougal and Centralia capitalized. The Tigers tied the match up early in the second half, and seemed to have the Panthers tangled at every turn.

Boon had some good drives up the field, but the defenders would not give her any breathing room to shoot the ball. After different Panthers tried their luck on corner kicks, Acheson hit one perfectly. Boon broke through the line of bodies, and headed the ball into the net with authority.

“The ball came out super fast, and then all of the sudden everything was in slow motion,” Boon said. “I knew right where I needed to place it.”

Acheson was thrilled with the opportunity to help Washougal win a big game.

“Oh my gosh,” she said. “Senior year, playoffs and I get to assist Ellie Boon on a game-winning goal. I couldn’t be happier.

“Out of nowhere, Ellie came and hit it at the perfect angle,” Acheson added. “There was no way the defense could stop it. It’s like she had it planned.”

The reward for the Panthers is another playoff game at home. Washougal hosts Black Hills tonight, at Fishback Stadium. Kickoff is at 6 p.m.

The Panthers are one win away from advancing to the state tournament.

“We made it to this first playoff game a couple of times before, but never got past it until now,” Akers said. “It’s great that we have more games to play. It shows we have new life to our program, and we’re going to continue to build and get better.”