Wilsonville girls soccer beats La Salle 4-2 to win first state championship
The Wilsonville girls soccer team struck first and struck hard.
La Salle's girls — facing the Wildcats in the Class 5A state championship game at Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13 — responded and responded dramatically.
But when Wilsonville dropped the hammer again in the second half, the Falcons did not have an answer and the Wildcats walked off with a 4-2 victory and the first state championship in program history. Most recently, Wilsonville lost the title game in 2019, dropping a 1-0 (4-3 PKs) decision to Crescent Valley.
"We've been to this game before and we didn't get the win, so just to be here — we've been working for this since COVID — and to get it feels really bittersweet," Wilsonville senior forward Lindsay Antonson said. Antonson, the leading scorer in state history, added three more goals in the title contest and finished her year with 51. "It doesn't even feel real to be honest."
"When they said there was one minute remaining (in 2019), we were so amped up because we were thinking like, 'It's still going. We need to finish this,' and … that didn't happen for us," said Wilsonville senior defender Dalton Mermis, who scored once against La Salle. "But this year, when that one-minute mark happened, we thought, 'We are coming home with this trophy.'"
"I'm very excited and I'm glad I had the chance to play with Lindsey Antonson. She's very inspiring," said Wilsonville sophomore forward Briana Crane. "I really wanted to help the seniors win their last game."
With the victory, the top-ranked Wildcats — co-coached by Alex Boehm and Dallas Malone — won for the 13th straight time, extended their season-long unbeaten streak to 19 games and ended their year with a 18-0-1 overall record after winning the Northwest Oregon Conference title.
Second-ranked La Salle, meanwhile, saw its nine-game winning streak snapped and ended its year at 15-3-1 — two of those losses coming to Wilsonville — after placing second in the NWOC.
Despite their loss in the final game, the Falcons left proud of their efforts — they rallied from a two-goal first-half deficit to tie the contest 2-2 at halftime — and their season.
"Our whole entire goal was to shut them down and try and go into the half tied because we know they're not used to being tied against us," said La Salle junior midfielder Emilia Warta, who scored both her team's goals in the title contest. She finished her year with 32 goals and 12 assists. "We thought that would be really good momentum for us."
"I wanted our team to stay in this position because we had the opportunity to show people that we were a great team and that we could come back," added sophomore midfielder Sydney Spotts, who assisted on Warta's second goal.
Cats' title games
Wilsonville won its first state championship on Saturday after three previous title-game appearances.
• 2021: Wilsonville 4, La Salle 2
• 2019: Crescent Valley 2, Wilsonville 1 (4-3 PKs)
• 2011: Sherwood 1, Wilsonville 0 (5-4 PKs)
• 1998: Catlin Gabel 1, Wilsonville 0
The Wildcats opened the championship game at a dead sprint, starting with Crane sending a throw-in into the edge of the Falcons' penalty box; from there, sophomore Kenley Whittaker's shot was deflected across the goal mouth to Antonson and she knocked it home at the left post to make it 1-0 just 3 minutes, 54 seconds into the game.
Wilsonville was back in goal less than 10 minutes later when senior Brighton Ring played a through ball toward Antonson in the center of the box. La Salle senior goalkeeper Hannah Reddick came out to challenge, but Antonson reached the ball a moment ahead of Reddick and nicked it past the Falcon keeper and into the goal as the two players collided.
"We came out hard, and that was our goal — just to come out hard and put the pedal to the metal," Antonson said.
"That's one of our key (parts) for our team — we come out the first five minutes and try to get the first goal, get the first everything," Mermis said.
La Salle, which had to play without senior team captain Natalie Pfleger (she received two yellow cards in the Falcons' semifinal victory), was rocked by the Wildcats' fast start, but finally steadied themselves in the final 12 minutes of the opening half.
With four minutes remaining before halftime, junior Allison Weber crossed the ball to Warta at the top of the Wildcats' penalty box, where she controlled it, turned and hit a right-footed shot to the right corner of the goal to cut her team's deficit to 2-1.
Then, with 45 seconds remaining in the half, Spotts set up Warta for a one-on-one chance against Wilsonville senior keeper Maddie Erickson and Warta beat her to the right corner to make it 2-2 at the half.
"Getting those two goals scored on us early set us back but being able to come back from those at the end of the half really gave us some good momentum," Warta said.
While that late comeback might have derailed another team, it just made the Wildcats more determined — and they showed it in the second half.
As it had in the first half, Wilsonville dominated the start of the second half and pushed back ahead 3-2 just 4:30 into the period when Antonson was fouled and converted a penalty kick to the right corner.
The Wildcats then made it 4-2 when senior Karina Borgen sent a corner kick toward the Falcons' goal from the left side and Mermis ran onto it at the far post for what turned out to be the final score of the game with 23:37 remaining.
"That was hard (when La Salle tied the game), but I knew we had a whole 40 minutes still to play and I knew that we were going to come out even stronger," Antonson said. "And when we went up two, we knew that we weren't going to let it go again."
"I was nervous, but I was ready to go," Crane said. "We just thought of it as 0-0 and we thought of it like (it) was a brand new game and we had 40 minutes to play. They changed their formation, but they can't stop us. We are the better team."
Warta had one last chance to score, but saw her shot stopped by Erickson with 11 minutes remaining and the Wildcats could finally celebrate their first championship.
"We knew we could do this," Mermis said. "We came out strong, and obviously, the score tells for itself. It's one way to go out and I definitely wouldn't have it go any other way."
"We've been down in games before and that prepared us for this type of moment," Antonson added. "It's the first championship for Wilsonville soccer so we made history. It feels amazing."
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