TIMES FILE PHOTO - Valley Catholic star Taylor Menkens and the Valiants cruised to a playoff win over Henley.

The Valley Catholic girls soccer program graduated ten seniors from a team that reached the state semifinals last season.

Losing that many players usually leads to rebuilding year. Not so for this season’s Valiants.

Despite not having a single senior in its starting lineup, second-ranked Valley Catholic had little trouble defeating visiting Henley 3-0 in the first round of the OSAA 4A playoffs Tuesday.

Sophomore forward Kallie Kawaguchi scored a pair of goals and fellow sophomore Kate MacNaughton also found the back of the net for the Valiants, who will host Philomath in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

Valley Catholic outshot the Hornets, 25-3, including a 15-1 edge in shots on goal, and had 11 corner kicks compared to just three for Henley.

The Valiants tested Hornets goalkeeper Vanessa Ramirez several times before finally getting on the board in the 15th. minute.

Freshman forward Parisa Sabet found some space down the right side and slipped a nice crossing pass to McNaughton who calmly beat Ramirez for a 1-0 lead.

“It was a really great start and got us going,” said MacNaughton. “But I think we can improve on working together as a team. It’s not just being individuals but working together as one unit.”

Valley Catholic, which improved to 12-4, seemed to lose its intensity after grabbing the early edge.

“We came out from the first whistle wanting to win,” said Head Coach Kayla Gaspardis. “But after we scored we kind of played to not lose and got caught on our heels a little bit.”

The Hornets showed some signs of life but never really generated any serious scoring opportunities against a solid Valiants defense of junior Rachel Orchard and sophomores Johanna Filip, Sarah Jones, and Sophia Herrera.

Junior goalkeeper Noelle Mannen only needed to make one save in the shutout.

Valley Catholic gave itself some breathing room with less than a minute left in the opening half when junior midfielder Taylor Menkens found an open Kawaguchi who was initially denied on a nice point-blank save by Ramirez.

The rebound came right back to Kawaguchi who fired on net again. This time it hit a Henley defender standing on the goal line then deflected off yet another Hornets player into the net for a 2-0 edge.

“Their goalie kept them in the game for sure,” Gaspardis said. “But getting that goal at the end of first half gave us confidence going into the second.”

The Valiants are the fourth-highest scoring team in all of 4A and have won their last 12 games dating back to September 15 against Gladstone.

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