Cursed by the grass and odd bounces at Jason Lee Middle School, the Camas High School girls soccer team discovered a cure.
By attacking the goal early and playing ferocious defense, the Papermakers prevailed over Columbia River 1-0.
“I’ll remember how we played with so much heart. We really wanted this win,” said senior Sara Slayton. “River is the defending state champion, and we came here super focused and determined. I’m really proud of us. We ended the Jason Lee curse.”
“It’s always nice to say you can beat a state champion,” added junior Olivia Lovell. “I think it says a lot about our team. We really proved ourselves.”
Lovell delivered the decisive goal on a pass from Janae Benson midway through the first half.
“Janae and I have a good connection. I looked up just in time to see her get that one through,” Lovell said. “She gave me a great ball, and all I was thinking about was finishing it off. It was a great assist on her part.”
The Papermakers fended off a handful of free kicks and corners across the net in the second half. Slayton filled in admirably on the backline for an ill Emily Ainsworth. She chased down several balls, along with Adrienne Engel, Kailee Esser, Maia Sharma and Annike Sumpter.
“A 1-0 lead isn’t much. If we’re not going to be able to score, we better play good defense,” Slayton said. “Make sure we have a immediate pressure, intercept the ball, get it to the wings and attack.”
Goalkeeper Andy Soderberg cut the Chieftains off at the pass for nine saves. She took some heavy hits, but kept the ball in front of her.
“We played a lot better here than the past two years. We seem to have trouble with this field,” Soderberg said. “This time, we made no excuses. We forgot about the field, and just played how we play.”
It was the first win for the Camas girls at Jason Lee since 2007. The Papermakers earned an even bigger prize Thursday, the 3A Greater St. Helens League championship. Camas clinched after Columbia River beat Kelso.
“We haven’t won a league title since 2007,” said Camas head coach Roland Minder. “It feels nice to accomplish that.”
The Papermakers host Kelso tonight and Fort Vancouver Thursday, at Doc Harris Stadium. Both games begin at 7 p.m. Camas hosts a bi-district playoff game on Saturday, Nov. 6, for the opportunity to go back to state.
“We owe it to our seniors to go as far as we can,” Lovell said. “We want to get back to contending for a state title.”