By Andy Buhler, Columbian staff writer
At this time last year, the Camas girls soccer program was the No. 1 team in the nation and on its way to a Class 4A state title.
The program graduated 10 seniors — much of the core of that team — and anticipated a drop.
“When we did our goal-setting at the beginning of the season, I said, ‘look, what are we going to do for an encore? Let’s be realistic,” Camas coach Roland Minder said. “We’re not going to be able to match last year’s team.’ ”
So color Minder surprised that one year later the Papermakers are back in the final four. And to get there, they blew past Skyline 4-1 on Saturday night at Doc Harris Stadium in a game that was over almost as soon as it started.
“I expected it to be 1-0, a huge battle,” forward Maddie Kemp, who had a hattrick, said. “I didn’t expect this outcome … I don’t think the result is anything more than we could wish for.”
Now the Papermakers will play Issaquah in the semifinals on Friday at 8 p.m. in Puyallup’s Sparks Stadium.
It was good timing, and perhaps a minor stroke of luck helped the Papermakers punched the Spartans in the mouth right out of the gate.
Camas’ Carla Jooste sent a shot high in the air from about 30 yards out, and went over the goalkeeper’s head, hit the post and in the back of the net 30 seconds into the game. The goal immediately sent the raucous busload of Skyline supporters into silence.
“I don’t even know (what happened),” Jooste, who scored the game-winner in the round of 16 game, said. “I just one-touched it and thought she saved it, so I turned around.”
Then Camas compounded its lead at the 15-minute mark. Kemp took a sideways touch to clear space at the top of the box and ripped a shot above and past the goalkeeper to put Camas up two.
“Getting an early goal always puts the pressure on the other team,” Minder said. “That’s always a good thing.”
Skyline raised the level of physicality, and possession evened back out.
Then Camas capitalized on a Skyline error in the final minute of the first half. Liz Parker stepped to a short pass off a goal kick, intercepted it and found Kemp for a goal to take a 3-0 lead going into half.
“Perfect timing,” Minder said. “If there’s such thing as a momentum shift, there’s no chance. Sometimes teams come back … that third goal was huge.”
That proved to be a useful cushion for the Papermakers. Skyline scored four minutes into the second half off a corner kick.
But Camas held them off, as the Spartans couldn’t find the back of the net again.
In the 73rd minute, the Papermakers put the game away. Kemp was tripped in the box, a penalty was called and she sunk the PK to notch a hattrick.
The Papermakers lost their team captain and center back, senior Perrin Belzer, to injury in the last 10 minutes of the game when a Skyline player barreled into her back.
She was tended to on the field, and received assistance from trainers on the medical table after the game. There is no immediate timetable for a return.
Minder wouldn’t go as far to think about losing his team’s defensive anchor for the next weekend.
“I don’t want to be without Perry,” he said. “But if we have to we have to.”