High school boys soccer playoff action comes to Camas and Washougal this week.
The Washougal Panthers host W.F. West of Chehalis tonight, at 6 p.m., at Fishback Stadium. This is the first of three games Washougal must win this week to advance to the state tournament.
“This should be a good showcase for our soccer program,” said Panther head coach John Tyger. “It’s a chance to represent our school, and I think our kids are going to play really well.”
The Camas Papermakers play for the bi-district championship Saturday, at 1 p.m., at Doc Harris Stadium. After winning 15 matches in a row, the Papermakers are one victory away from going to state for the 13th consecutive season.
Centralia defeated Washougal 3-1 Saturday, in the first round of the district playoffs. Michael Wright scored the only goal for the Panthers on an assist from Patrick Johnson.
“The heart was there,” Tyger said. “The kids never quit.”
Washougal played with as many as five freshmen on the field at the same time. Not only is that a testament to having such a young team, but also gives the program a strong foothold for the future.
“Any time you are surrounded by so many young players, you know they are going to mature and get better,” Tyger said. “All of these kids have been instrumental in getting us to the playoffs. It feels great to be able to reward them with playing time.”
Especially when the young Panthers started fighting back. Centralia led 3-0 in the second half, before Wright nailed a ball in the back of the net for Washougal with about 20 minutes to go in the game. Johnson fired a rocket shot at the goal from about 40 yards away, but the ball bounced off the crossbar.
“It didn’t hit the crossbar, it smashed the crossbar,” Tyger said. “It was one of the best shots I’ve ever seen.”
Although they lost the battle Saturday, the Washougal boys are psyched for tonight’s homecoming. In the eyes of these Panthers, the war is far from over.
“Our kids gained a lot of confidence. No question about it,” Tyger said. “After they made adjustments and scored that first goal, they felt like they could hang in there with almost anybody. You could tell by their demeanor they are excited to get back out there.”