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Scappoose girls' soccer wins state championship

Indians shut out La Grande in the 2nd half and come away with a 3-1 victory for the first girls' soccer title in school history


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - The Scappoose girls' soccer team and their fans celebrate the Indians' 3-1 victory to claim the state title from La Grande.The Scappoose girls' soccer team are state champions. Kim Carpenter's go-ahead goal gave the Indians a 2-1 lead, and a strike from Eleanor Jones put the final nail in the coffin as the Scappoose Lady Indians knocked off La Grande 3-1 to win their first ever state title.

As it has been ever since the Indians started their playoff run, this wasn't a match for the faint of heart.

“Gladstone, La Salle, this game, (I was) just on the edge of my seat,” said Coach Nicholas Heffernan, in his first year with the program. “It's just unbelievable, the passion and the fight they showed.”

Early on, it looked like things might go the Tigers' way. In the 14th minute, La Grande's Alissa Welberg chipped a shot toward the goal from the outer edge of the 18 yard box. Indian keeper Sam Darr lept, but the ball went just over her mitts and into the net, putting La Grande on the board first.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Tribe defender Emily Muth reacts to scoring the Indians' first goal of the match. It was Muth's touch that pulled Scappoose even with La Grande in the first half.“I knew the first ten minutes weren't going to be pretty,” said Heffernan, citing the team's youth and the horde of supporters in the stands. “Now I look back, and the first goal they scored, I'm so happy about. It gave that grit. “Can we do it? Do we really deserve it?” and we did. One-one.”

Scappoose answered 13 minutes later. Madison Verzino sent in a cross on a free kick in the 26th minute, and the ball found the boot of senior Emily Muth for the score.

"Unbelievable cross by (Madison) Verzino,” said Heffernan. “Great goal by Emily Muth, who is just in heaven right now.”

The teams went in to halftime tied at one, but with the Tribe goal, something changed. All of the sudden, the jitters were gone. Scappoose slowed down and worked the ball from the defensive third of the field, and a little smart defending was all they needed to keep the ball away from La Grande's speedy wing players.

Then in the 59th minute, the Indians struck again. During a scrum in the box, the ball fell to Lucy Davidson, who passed out to Carpenter, waiting near the edge of the penalty area. Carpenter – who recalled the score as only a blur – stepped up and hit the shot behind the keeper and into the empty net, putting Scappoose ahead for good.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Sophomore Kim Carpenter takes a shot in the second half of the Indians' title match against La Grande. Carpenter sent the ball into the back of the net, giving Scappoose the lead for good.Less than a minute later, La Grande lost one of their biggest assets: senior midfielder Jasmine Smith, who was shown the red card after picking up her second cautionary yellow. From that point, it was the Indians' game. La Grande pulled a player from their attack back to take Smith's place, and for the final 20 minutes of the match, the Indians put on a clinic.

Before Jones knocked in the final score in the 80th minute, Scappoose had outshot the Tigers 10-2 in the second half, forcing three saves from La Grande keeper Auslin McDaniel-Perrin. Jones' goal served as exhilarating insurance, just as the Scappoose students pressed against the fence, waiting for the last few seconds to tick off the clock.

“It's a great feeling because you know it's actually happening, and it kind of assures you all the more,” said Jones of tallying the Indians' third goal. “It just feels great. Watching (the goal) go in, there's no better feeling. Our team worked so hard. That was a team goal, for sure.”

Though the Indians may have seemed an unlikely candidate for a title run at the beginning of the season, the team knew early on they'd have a shot. And for head coach Nicholas Heffernan, he never doubted the girls after his first day at practice. The victory, the trophy and the celebration afterward sit as the best memory he can recall in all his years in soccer, especially having seen their potential from the beginning.

“After the first practice, I knew,” he said. “Before that, you dream of it. You dream to come in your first year (and win a championship). Like I said, I could give them a soccer ball, and they'd do it themselves. Just an unbelievable group.”

The season took a blow early on, as the Indians lost their two starting goalkeepers in the first week, and dropped three of their first four matches. Scappoose scored just three goals in the preseason, while giving up 12.

“We played some tough teams, but I said to myself 'We're gonna have a rough preseason, but we can still come out on top,'” said Jones. “As league started progressing, I started seeing a higher level of play I haven't seen in our program. I knew it wasn't because of the teams in our league, I knew it was something special.”

However brilliant their offense, and the “brick-wall” back line aside, this team's rallying cry has been their unity. After losing some of the best high school talent in state history, getting a new coach and a brand new system and fielding a team of mostly underclassmen, it will go down in the books as one team – a single, solitary unit – which brought home the title.

“We go through it all together,” said Heffernan. “I'm working with them on fitness, they work for me, we all just work for each other. It's so rare to have that on a team. I'm just over the moon for it.”

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - From left to right: Eisha Campos (12), Natalie Muth (13), Eleanor Jones (14), Jenny Vardanega (15), Haley Heuer (9) and Lucy Davidson (17) line up to receive their individual medals.

SUMMARY

At Liberty High School, Hillsboro

Scappoose 1 2 – 3

La Grande 1 0 – 1

Shots:

Scappoose 5 11 – 16

La Grande 2 2 – 4

Corners:

Scappoose 0 6 – 6

La Grande 0 0 – 0

Saves:

Scappoose (Darr) 0 1 – 1

La Grande (McDaniel-Perrin) 2 3 – 5

Scoring:

1. 13:13 La Grande, Alissa Welberg (unassisted)

2. 26:12 Scappoose, Emily Muth (Madison Verzino)

3. 58:35 Scappoose, Kim Carpenter (Lucy Davidson)

4. 79:11 Scappoose, Eleanor Jones (Davidson)

Cautions:

25:43 La Grande # 21 Rachael Alexander - Yellow

39:47 La Grande #15 Jasmine Smith - Yellow

60:15 La Grande #15 Jasmine Smith - Yellow

60:15 La Grande #15 Jasmine Smith - Red

63:15 Scappoose #17 Lucy Davidson - Yellow

73:18 Scappoose #14 Eleanor Jones - Yellow