Camas soccer warriors never surrendered

Papermakers fall to Shorecrest in the first round of state

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Rachel Gibson (16) takes a shot at the net for the Camas High School girls soccer team. The Papermakers played their hearts out in the first round of state Nov. 8, at Doc Harris Stadium, but lost to Shorecrest in a shootout.

Warriors love the big fight.

The Camas High School girls soccer players were in one with Shorecrest during the first round of the state tournament Nov. 8, at Doc Harris Stadium.

Down to the last second of double overtime, the Papermakers inched closer and closer to scoring the winning goal in a 0-0 contest. Just a few more minutes on the clock might have been their ticket to paradise. Anything to avoid the shootout, where Shorecrest emerged victorious by the score of 4-3.

“Shootouts don’t always show who the better team is,” said Camas senior midfielder Olivia Lovell. “It definitely didn’t show it in that game.”

“I wish we could have kept playing until somebody scored, cause I know we would have won,” added senior co-captain Lauren Oljar.

Shorecrest attacked with purpose throughout the first half, but goalkeeper Jamie Carter and the Papermaker defenders held down the fort. Camas turned the tables in the second half. Lovell curved a free kick across the net, but Shorecrest goalkeeper Frida Swenson intercepted the ball before Mackenzie Amos got her head on it. Emily Ponce and Mikaela Norrish moved the ball in unison, but nobody could continue the play after Norrish crossed the ball into open space in front of the net.

The next Camas attack lured Swenson out of the box. Rachel Gibson aimed for the open right corner of the net, but the ball sailed just wide and out of bounds. After another near miss by Norrish, Oljar fired a rocket back at the net but Swenson leaped up and made a spectacular save. Courtney Loewen also had a shot blocked by Swenson.

“I’ll just remember the intensity of it all,” said senior center back Alex Dombek. “We all worked so well as a unit because we had to. There was no time to hesitate, just act.”

The Papermakers earned one more free kick before regulation time expired. As the final seconds ticked off the clock, Lovell raced up, positioned the ball and got a shot off at the buzzer. It looked like the ball was going to sneak in underneath the crossbar, but Swenson made one more breathtaking save.

“In those last moments of desperation, you take all the chances you can get,” Lovell said. “I thought that last one was going in.”

When it comes down to shootouts, history has not been on the side of the Camas girls. After the Papermakers captured a state title in 2005, many of those same girls lost shootouts at state the next two years.

It seemed eerily familiar for Camas Nov. 8. Lovell, Ponce and Carly Marshall netted their kicks in the shootout, but Shorecrest came back with four goals to secure the victory.

“We saw so much heart in this game,” said senior right back Emily Ainsworth. “Nobody wanted the season to end.”

Afterwards, head coach Roland Minder called the girls over for one final embrace.

“When you go to battle in a war and one of your buddies goes down, the war doesn’t stop,” he said. “This group of girls turned out to be such warriors. They all circled the wagons and lifted each other up.”

It was a defining moment for a team that battled through injuries and adversity, but never surrendered.

“We all knew this would be the last time this team would be on the field together. In that final moment, we showed how close we are,” Oljar said. “The Camas soccer spirit is always unified. It’s a sisterhood. Even in the moments when we are most vulnerable and sad, we are there for each other.”