The shock of losing 7-0 to Class 6A top-10 Beaverton on Sept. 16 discouraged the St. Helens girls soccer team. A solemn vibe hit the Lions, from coach Angie Nichols on down.
But Nichols put aside her blues and encouraged the team to move on. Other than perhaps Scappoose and Wilsonville, St. Helens won't play a better team than Beaverton the rest of the regular season. The Lions were a 5A playoff-caliber club before the setback and would be after, so long as they grew from the ordeal.
After two days of productive practice, St. Helens responded in fitting fashion on Sept. 19, blanking Seaside 3-0 at Broadway Field to even its nonleague record at 2-2-0.
"We needed a win to kind of get our spirits back up, and we pretty much dominated that game," Nichols said. "We put things in perspective, told (the girls) to shake it off and learn from the Beaverton game. Sometimes those games happen, and the players knew that. I learned a few things from that game myself.
"And against Seaside, the team played really well together. Going from a really good 6A school to a 4A was a completely different game."
The Lions felt like they didn't play close to their best match at Beaverton. Their potential wasn't fully on display, and miscommunication and defensive mixups cost St. Helens dearly in the second half.
The Seaside result was more St. Helens style: aggressive on offense, physical and technical on defense. The Lions monopolized most of the possession with more an offensive focus and didn't allow Seaside to get a shot on goal.
Senior Amber Trenaman started at goalie, and Gabby Alexander played the second half. Kylee Pedersen and Jezarel Ortiz did well at center back, with Gwen Daoust, Crystal Nehls and Alyssa Marsh manning a back line that doesn't start a senior.
In the first half, senior forward Mackenzie Carlson crossed a pass to Alexander, who trapped the ball and let off a close-range shot that deflected off of a Seaside defender. St. Helens sophomore midfielder Emma Durant was there to finish the ricochet and put St. Helens ahead 1-0. Carlson scored the Lions' next two goals, one off a give-and-go into the upper left corner.
Senior center back Kelsey Elliott is still out with an injury and is about three weeks from playing again. Freshman striker Hannah Hayduk also is out for three weeks with an injury.
With two road wins and two nonleague losses to 6A schools, St. Helens was seventh in the Oregon School Activities Association 5A power rankings going into Thursday's game at 6A Gresham.
The Lions will play at home Tuesday against 6A Liberty and at 6A Oregon City on Oct. 3 — more opportunities to strengthen their resume before Northwest Oregon Conference games start on Oct. 9 (with St. Helens at Putnam).
"We're on our way to being as confident as we can be," Nichols said.
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