Lady Bowmen take TRL title
TUALATIN — It's hard to get much better than this.
Two teams — two good teams, that is.
Two teams you could call rivals.
One championship at stake — and a battle to claim that championship.
And the Sherwood High School girls soccer team captured that title.
The Lady Bowmen, answering Tualatin's tying goal with the winning tally less than a minute later, won the Three Rivers League championship by getting a spirited 3-2 win over the Timberwolves in a league finale played last Thursday at Tualatin High School.
"This means a lot to us," said Sherwood senior midfielder Ashlyn Strohmaier, who scored the first goal in the title showdown. "We lost a lot of players from last year, but we bounced back and won it again this year."
"It means so much," said Lady Bowmen junior Mia Stallard, who scored the game-winning goal. "We worked so hard for this. I'm really happy for the seniors."
With the victory, Sherwood, playing in its final Three Rivers League match before moving on to the Pacific Conference next year, improved to 6-0-2 in TRL matches (9-2-3 overall), putting the Lady Bowmen alone in first place in the final league standings.
"It was teamwork," Strohmaier said in regard to what was the key to winning the league title. "We played for each other. And we really wanted to win league."
"Our team bonded so well," Stallard said. "We're like a family."
With the loss, Tualatin, which would have claimed the league title with a win last Thursday, moved to 5-2-1 in TRL contests (7-5-1 overall), putting the Timberwolves in third place in the final league standings.
"We knew it would be intense," Tualatin junior defender Megan Sweeney said. "We wanted it. Our heart was a huge part of it. We knew we had to be positive, and this showed us how intense we can play. I'm proud of the team."
"It was very intense," said Tualatin freshman Cally Togiai, who scored both Timberwolf goals. "We really wanted it, especially on Senior Night."
The Lady Bowmen struck quickly in last week's league-title showdown, getting a goal from sophomore Loma McNeese, off an assist from senior Maddie Kilcoin, coming just three minutes into the contest.
Sherwood upped the lead to 2-0, when Strohmaier scored off a corner kick by senior Lauren Scarvie, coming near the midway point of the first half.
"It ricocheted around, and I was able to tap it in," Strohmaier said. "It was my first goal of the season. It felt great."
Tualatin cut the lead to 2-1 just a few minutes later on Togiai's first goal of the match.
"I made a run, and (Tualatin sophomore) Abby (Borg) slotted it through," Togiai said.
Sherwood went on to take its 2-1 lead to halftime.
The Lady Bowmen defense, including junior Abby Eisenbeiss, junior Jenna Funk, junior Madi Pastores and freshman Morgen Fried, among others, stepped up to keep that one-goal lead intact for the first part of the second half, with Funk clearing the ball away in front of Togiai with 37 minutes and 8 seconds left to play play in the contest.
But the Wolves were able to fight back and tie up the match. Togiai, controlling the ball as she moved it up field, worked her way to get an open shot, which she put into the Sherwood goal from seven yards away, tying the score at 2-2 with 24:39 remaining in the match.
However, Tualatin's celebration was very short-lived.
Sherwood quickly regained the lead, at 3-2, when Stallard scored with 24:16 left in the contest, after getting the ball out of scramble and knocking it into the Timberwolf goal.
"(Sherwood senior) Kolleen (Peters) hit it in, and I was able to get to it," Stallard said. "And I was able to kick it in."
Tualatin kept the pressure on after Sherwood regained the lead. Togiai hit a hard shot from 17 yards out on the right side with 12:14 left to play, but Sherwood sophomore goalkeeper Jadie Baldwin was able to block the shot, and then grab the ball right before Timberwolf junior Megan MacPherson hit it.
The Lady Bowmen responded with shots by Stallard and McNeese, but they were saved by Tualatin keeper Sarah Hall.
With just 2:45 left to play, Tualatin freshman Alyvia Embree hit a hard ground shot from 15 yards out on the right side, but that attempt was wide right of the mark.
Strohmaier then ended a late Tualatin attack, clearing the ball away with just 52 seconds left to play. Soon after, the Lady Bowmen were celebrating the win, and the league championship.
"I'm so happy," Strohmaier said with a smile. "This is unbelievable. I can't describe it. Tualatin is a great team."
Both teams are now moving on to the Class 6A state playoffs, and they'll open postseason play with first-round matches on Saturday.
Sherwood, the No. 9 team in the final OSAA power rankings, will host Willamette at 6 p.m. in a first-round contest. Willamette, the No. 4 team out the Southwest Conference and the No. 25 team in the power rankings, is 6-7-1 on the season.
"We'll work hard and prepare," Stallard said of the playoffs. "Hopefully, we'll do well."
"We're looking to go as far as we can," Strohmaier said.
Tualatin, the No. 24 team in the power rankings, will play at Clackamas in a first-round match Saturday at 4 p.m. Clackamas, the No. 2 team out of the Mt. Hood Conference and the No. 8 team in the power rankings, is 9-4-1 on the season.
"We're looking forward to the playoffs," Togiai said. "We play good defense. If we get our attack going, we'll be good to go."
Tualatin also opened the state playoffs at Clackamas a year ago, getting a 2-0 first-round win over the Cavaliers.
If the Lady Bowmen and Timberwolves both win their first round matches on Saturday, then they'll face each other again on Tuesday, in a second-round state playoff match to be played at Sherwood High School.