Playing in a heavy downpour at Doc Harris Stadium on Oct. 23, the Camas High girls soccer team sloshed their way to a 7-0 shutout against league rival Union High.
Camas had already wrapped up the league title prior to the Union match, but the girls quickly showed their many loyal fans how hard they are working to achieve another state title.
“This is a sisterhood, and to accomplish great things we have to become one,” senior Maddie Kemp said after her four-goal performance at the Oct. 23 match.
Those four goals push Kemp’s record-smashing high school career goal count up to 130.
3 straight years in ‘Final Four’
The past four years have been extraordinary for the Camas girls soccer program, and senior Maddie Kemp has been a varsity star since her freshman year.
She started right away under the tutelage of longtime Camas soccer coach Roland Minder, and the Papermakers finished third in state during Kemp’s freshman year.
In Kemp’s sophomore year, the Camas girls soccer team pushed even harder, winning the state championship.
The following year, a team led by Kemp and several other current seniors — Justine Pauly, Jazzi Paulson, Jenna Efraimson and Callie Rheaume — made the “Final Four” again, and came in third in the state.
This season, Kemp’s last at Camas, the Papermakers have already wrapped up the league championship and are looking ahead to the postseason.
The season is bittersweet, not just because Kemp is leaving Camas to play for Gonzaga University next fall, but also because this is Minder’s final year with the Papermakers.
A native of Switzerland, Minder has earned a reputation as one of the best high school soccer coaches in the United States — named national coach of the year by the United Soccer Coaches in 2017, he has won five state championships, taken his boys and girls soccer teams to the state tournaments 30 times and had teams make the state’s “Final Four” 12 times.
Minder plans to retire at the end of this season after 35 years coaching soccer. He has spent his last 23 years coaching at Camas High School, and retired as the boys coach last season.
Asked about his upcoming retirement, the coach said he isn’t thinking about that right now.
“No, no, no, I’m not going to talk about emotions yet,” Minder said. “We are focused on improving and getting ready to play the playoffs and becoming as deep as we possibly can.”
Several of the seniors on the team, including Kemp, admit they share a bit of a class-clown streak, which frequently shows up at practice. The girls claim it helps them keep everything in perspective.
“We really like to mess with Minder,” Kemp said, citing an example that happened the week prior, when the senior girls asked the coach to be their date for the homecoming dance.
“He said ‘no,’ of course,” Kemp said, laughing. “I guess he didn’t want to be seen with us.”
Being the only freshman on the varsity team four years ago, Kemp has developed a unique relationship with the longtime Camas soccer coach.
“I mean, our relationship is as close as he probably lets anyone get to him,” Kemp said.
Minder likes to keep a steely-eyed focus on the job at hand, which is winning another state championship.
“I’ve got such a good senior core, and the majority of them came up and played for me as sophomores when we won the state title, and they were all starters last year when we won third place in the state,” Minder said.
The team has focused much of its practice time on defensive work — more time than Minder recalls ever taking in past seasons. That’s because the team had to rebuild its back line. Several players who are not natural defenders, according to their coach, had to be moved to the back line. It’s been a learning process, but the 7-0 shutout against Union shows they are making good progress on defense.
“Here’s my big thing,” Minder said. “If you are able to score at least one goal, then you should be able to win. Tonight was a good night.”
Now, the Papermakers will attempt to come together as one and peak for the postseason. A good showing at the district tournament is the first step. The district title game will be held on Saturday, Nov. 3.
“We want to win this for Minder and, like he keeps saying, for ourselves,” Kemp said.