The Camas girls soccer team entered postseason play with an unbeaten record, but wanted to leave nothing to chance. Even though the Papermakers hadn’t participated in a penalty-kick (PK) shootout all season, they wanted to make sure they were prepared just in case.
“We’re working on penalty kicks every single practice because all of the games in the ‘elite eight’ last weekend went to (shootouts) except for ours,” goalkeeper Keely Wieczorek told the Post-Record five days before Camas’ 4A state tournament semifinal contest against Skyline.
The extra effort paid off on Nov. 20, as the Papermakers converted four of five PK attempts and received two critical saves from Wieczorek to defeat Issaquah 1-0 in the 4A state tournament championship game at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
The win capped off a perfect season for the Papermakers, who finished 22-0-0. They haven’t lost a game since the spring of 2019.
“It’s still kind of surreal,” Camas coach Keri Tomasetti said. “It’s something that we had been wanting for several years for this particular group, and we saw it coming, but at the same time, it’s unbelievable. You get there and you’re just, ‘Wow.’ They’ve worked so hard to get to this point and they did it. They brought home the trophy. They were ecstatic, of course. They’re super happy and excited and living on those endorphins right now.”
Camas had several chances to score a goal during regulation and the two overtime periods, but failed to convert them.
“We had several opportunities, and unfortunately just didn’t quite have the velocity on those opportunities, so the (Issaquah) keeper cleaned them up,” Tomasetti said. “But they were there. They were certainly there.”
Tomasetti was “extremely nervous” heading into the shootout, but “was more confident in this group than any other group in the sense that they were so confident.”
“As a coach, of course I was nervous because I’ve been through this and been on the losing end of it, so those nerves were definitely up there. My heart was racing,” she said. “But they were so confident. I was telling them, ‘Relax, take a deep breath, this is just like practice. Just don’t let it get to you.’ And they were like, ‘Yeah, we totally got this.'”
The first five PK attempts went into the back of the net — three by Camas’ Maya Parman, Lily Loughney and Madeline Johnson and two by Issaquah’s Lauren Lalley and Avery Crowe.
Wieczorek then made a diving save against Issaquah’s Jensyn Lins, giving the Papermakers an advantage they quickly lost after their ensuing shot went high.
But Weiczorek came up with another save against Ruby May, swinging the advantage back to Camas.
“Keely is just a phenomenal keeper,” Tomasetti said. “She’s just good at reading the ball and being able to get there, and her reach is great. She did the job. For her to make two (saves), that’s more than you’d ask any keeper. You always say, ‘Save one. Just save one,’ and she came up with two. It was amazing.”
Nora Melcher then converted her attempt, sealing a 4-2 shootout win and touching off a wild celebration on the field and Papermakers’ sideline.
“We had utmost confidence in Nora,” Tomasetti said. “She’s just a great PK-taker. She’s very calm and composed, so when she got up there we were like, ‘OK, we’ve got this. We’ve got this.’ Then we just hoped that we really did (have it).”
Camas advanced to the championship match with a 3-0 win over Skyline on Nov. 19. Parker Mairs, Anna Mooney and Bella Burns scored goals, and Wieczorek recorded a season-high 10 saves.
‘We had a little bit of a slow start, but then we came out with a little more ferociousness and started putting things together,” Tomasetti said. “Skyline put more shots on goal against us than any other team has all season. This was kind of the first time that Keely felt that, ‘Hey, I’m actually being (challenged) out here.’ She had a couple of really amazing decision-making saves, and saved us on that end for sure. We have a strong defense, but all strong defenses have that (great) keeper to back them up, and Keely was definitely there to do that.”