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Indians battle with loaded Wildcats until final whistle, come up just short in NWOC showdown

PMG PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Scappoose senior Emma Jones (14) and Rylee Cook (11) watch as goalie Faith Woodall stops a Wilsonville shot in the first half. The clash of the Northwest Oregon Conference girls' soccer titans lived up to the hype and then some.

Wilsonville came at Scappoose in offensive waves and worked tirelessly on the foreign natural grass of its foe's home field. The Indians countered with serene passing, quality possessions and dogged spunk. Neither team could fully put the other away. Neither side flinched. Stars such as Scappoose senior Emma Jones and Wilsonville sophomore Lindsey Antonson were as good as advertised.

And while both sides wanted the league opener desperately, a stellar second half from the Wildcats stole the show. Tied 1-1 at the half, Antonson scored twice in the second half and Wilsonville fended off a late Jones goal to win the match 3-2 on Oct. 9 at Scappoose High School. It was an evenly matched fight between the two many consider the class of the league.

"We knew this was going to be a war," Wilsonville head coach Dwight Sheppick said. "I felt whoever won this game would be the team to beat the rest of the year. I figured it was going to come down to (Wilsonville and Scappoose) like it did last year. Obviously, this puts a little bit of a target above our heads and that's ok. We'll rise to that target and keep playing hard."

The one-goal difference was a far cry from the lopsided 5-1 defeat Scappoose suffered through a season ago against the Wildcats. Scappoose struck first when sophomore midfielder Kiera Fagan found room along the left side of the pitch and put home a lefty kick to give her squad a 1-0 lead just seven minutes into the game. The Indians stayed within striking distance even when Wilsonville went up two scores in the second half and then put a scare in the defending NWOC champions with the last-minute push.

"I'm very proud of the girls," Scappoose head coach Summer Jark said. "This was a completely different game than last year. For segments of the first 15 minutes, we came out rocking. We had some of that here and there. And when we possessed the ball, I thought we were pretty hard to beat. I hope we can just get stronger from this and play the full 90 (minutes) going forward."

Wilsonville came out with ample pressure on an Indian defense that simply refused to wilt in the face of incessant shots on goal. Jones, Rylee Cook, Autumn Terry, Sydney Hanke and others affected the Wildcats' shots enough to take them off target. Senior goalie Faith Woodall worked furiously to keep Wilsonville off the scoreboard, slapping down shots, mobilizing the Indian defense in front of her and presenting a strong presence in between the posts.

"We expected this type of game," Sheppick said. "I want to say it was a matter of who wanted it the most, who had the most heart, but I think both teams had a lot of heart. We just happened to end up on the right side of things. Hats off to Scappoose, that's a hard-working group."

Wilsonville's Araxi Tejeda-Martinez, Haley Stahl, Camryn Pettenger-Willey, and Renee Lee all took shots on goal in the first half, attacking with speed and tight passes.

"Everybody knows we like to play fast," Sheppick said. "Most people try to slow the game down and take that away from us. So, we've just gotten a mindset of they're going to have to play the way we play. We're not going to play anything different. We're going to switch and get into the attack quick. That's our style."

Fagan, Anika Havlik, Grace Negelspach, Tessa Davidson and Tatum Boogman took the ball to the goal for Scappoose too, deploying heady passing and off the ball player movement to carve inside Wildcat territory. Jones and Woodall each boomed long free kicks that set up quality offensive possessions.

"We were hammering," Jark said with a smile. "We were on it right away, knocking it around, getting the ball out wide and kicking it back in. It's really hard to defend when you're playing one-two-touch passing. I'm proud of how they battled all the way to the very end. I'd love to see (Wilsonville) in the future, but we'll see what happens. We have to pick it up and keep going strong the rest of league."

Sheppick said Wilsonville didn't play its best by any means. The thick grass of Scappoose's field was a far cry from the artificial turf the Wildcats are accustomed to playing on and slowed their pace of play a great deal. Still, Sheppick said he was proud of how Wilsonville fought and carried itself despite never finding a true rhythm. The Wildcats had four shots hit either the posts or the crossbar in the first half, but still cashed in a rebound attempt to tie it up 1-1 with 33 minutes to go in the first half.

"Working hard pays off," Sheppick said. "We can be unfortunate like we were in the first half and then you get a goal or two just by effort and playing with your heart. We do that game in and game out. We're not going to give up on a game. We're not going to give up on a ball. That's what gets you through."

Antonson was an all-state selection as a freshman after scoring 22 goals. Midway through her sophomore campaign, the Wildcat forward already has 15, none bigger than the two she bagged against the Indians. With the sun setting directly behind Antonson's back, blocking Woodall's eyes the right-footed Wildcat booted a free kick over and around the Indian four-player wall just out of the reach of a diving Indian keeper into the right corner of the goal to give the Wildcats a 2-1 lead. Then, with just over seven minutes to go, Antonson took a touch from Lee and put home a close-range blast to make it 3-1.

"She's a beast, I go to bed thankful every night that she's on my team," Sheppick said of Antonson. "I think she's the best striker in the state. I wouldn't trade her for anybody. It's not just her technical ability. It's her effort. Every time she had the ball today (Scappoose) had three people on her. She doesn't quit on that. She just takes that as a challenge and keeps working."

Scappoose is 4-3-1 overall, 0-1 in league and seventh in the Class 5A power rankings. Wilsonville is 4-4-1, 1-0 in NWOC and sixth in the 5A power rankings.

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