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The Falcons come back from a 1-0 deficit and earn a berth in the Class 5A title game.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - La Salle junior forward Allison Weber leaps for joy after scoring the winning goal in her team's 3-2 overtime victory against North Eugene in the Class 5A state semifinals at La Salle High School on Tuesday, Nov. 9.Something had to give.

The Tuesday, Nov. 9, Class 5A state semifinal matchup between the La Salle and North Eugene girls soccer teams was akin to the proverbial battle between the irresistible force and the immovable object.

And for the longest time, it looked like the immovable force — North Eugene's stellar defense — would win. The Highlanders, who had only been scored on in two earlier games this year, took a one-goal lead late in the first half and held it for the next 40 minutes and 24 seconds.

But the Falcons broke through to tie the contest near the end of the second half, then scored twice more in overtime to beat North Eugene 3-2 and earn a berth in the upcoming state championship.

"That was incredible. That was just like an adrenaline rush the entire night," said La Salle junior Emilia Warta, who scored one goal and assisted on another. "Everyone put everything they had on the field because they knew that if we didn't, this could be our last game."

"I did not know it was going to come out like that," added junior forward Allison Weber, who scored twice in the victory. "I just had it in my head the whole time that … I really wanted to go to finals, so I just had to work hard for it. I'm so excited."

With the win — the team's ninth straight — the second-ranked Falcons improved to 15-2-1 overall after placing second in the Northwest Oregon Conference. No. 3 North Eugene, meanwhile, saw its seven-game winning streak snapped and finished at 13-1-2 after winning the Midwestern League.



La Salle 3, North Eugene 2

Next up, the Falcons will square off against NWOC champion Wilsonville — the top-ranked team in the state and a 2-0 winner over No. 4 Crescent Valley in its Tuesday semifinal — in the Class 5A state championship game at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 13, at Hillsboro Stadium.

"We really had to work hard to win it," Warta said. "It definitely prepares us for that final game. It just got us really amped and excited for the team that we've become this year."

That said, none of it came easily on Tuesday.

While La Salle dominated possession and shots in the first half, the Falcons failed to score, while the Highlanders broke through near the end of the half. With 7:54 left in the opening period, senior forward Ashley Hart tapped the ball left to senior midfielder/forward Chloe Wallace and Wallace scored on a low shot from 5 yards out for a 1-0 lead.

While La Salle kept the pressure on in the second half, the Falcons didn't get the equalizer until just 7:30 remained in regulation. There, junior midfielder Maia Gutmann saw her shot deflected by North Eugene senior keeper Delanie Stiffler, but Weber followed up at the left post to knot the score at 1-1.

"I was just really focused on winning, and the team really wanted to work our hardest and I didn't want to leave this game if … I didn't work my hardest," Weber said.

There was more excitement to come in overtime, too — lots of it.

First, North Eugene senior Avery Wormdahl glanced an angled shot off the La Salle crossbar early in the first 10-minute half of overtime. Then, with 3:16 to go in the first section of OT, La Salle sophomore Natalia Gonzalez made a steal and crossed the ball to Warta in the middle of the Highlanders' penalty box, connecting for the score and a 2-1 lead.

"I was wide open on the top of the box, and I just screamed for it and as soon as I got there, I had a wide-open shot with my left foot and I went for it and it went in and it was huge," Warta said. "It was so fun."

But that lead wouldn't last. Just 5:09 into the second half of overtime, North Eugene senior Natalie Hobbs sent a corner kick into the La Salle penalty box and senior Lauren Becraft headed it home at the far post to tie the game at 2-2.

But the Falcons didn't blink. Indeed, they answered just 51 seconds later when Warta attacked in the middle of the field, then dropped a pass to Weber on the left side and she converted a 15-yard shot for the 3-2 victory.

"We were able to come together, and we knew that we had it in us because we've been down in games before and pulled it out and got the win," Warta said.

"Before, the game I usually get super nervous, but I felt like this game, my teammate Kate (Collins) kind of calmed me down during the pledge," Weber said. "She said something to me, and it calmed me down and made me feel like I could do this."


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