State playoffs await Scappoose girls soccer
Perseverance isn't the Scappoose girls soccer team's middle name — but only because soccer teams don't have middle names.
The word fits the Indians, though, and Putnam was the latest team to find that out.
Scappoose persevered, and prevailed, in a key Northwest Oregon Conference match Oct. 24 at Scappoose High.
The Indians were put to the test by a pressuring Putnam squad, but the home team got a dramatic goal with 6 minutes, 50 seconds left.
Junior midfielder Tessa Davidson found fellow junior midfielder Grace Negelspach for the header that found the back of the net and pulled out a 2-1 victory.
"Our girls are so good about sticking it out," Scappoose coach Summer Jark said.
Scappoose dominated play in the first half, and Negelspach scored from long range to give the Indians a 1-0 halftime lead.
"I saw the keeper come out and so I shot it," she said.
"She did a move, took a touch and hit a long, beautiful shot over the keeper's head," Jark said.
But, after Scappoose outshot the Kingsmen 10-1 in what Jark called a "rocking first half" and took their 1-0 lead to the break, Putnam flipped the script.
For most of the second half, Putnam dictated play, controlling possession and keeping the ball in its attacking half of the field.
"They were really strong in the air and were playing their long balls and had all sorts of energy coming from their bench," Jark said. "And I think our game changed completely. We couldn't string a lot of passes together, and we weren't winning balls in the air. It was throw-in after throw-in for Putnam, and long ball after long ball, and they were pressing us really high. We couldn't get out of that press."
The Indians gave up a tying goal on one of those balls the Kingsmen hammered into a dangerous area, but Scappoose refused to crack further.
"The girls were able to calm down," Jark said, "and eventually find feet and work the ball around. I'm so impressed."
Scappoose had little hint whiff of an attack until the late going. Finally, the Indians were able to spring junior midfielder Anika Havlik down the left sideline a time or two and gain a couple of corner kicks.
While those resulted in nothing in particular, they did give the Indians some field position — and moments later, the Davidson-Negelspach chemistry worked its winning magic.
Davidson got the ball and had enough space to send in a cross from the right side, and Negelspach moved into enough of an open area to receive the pass and make something of it.
"I knew she was in there," Davidson said, "so I was looking for her to get the head on it, because she always does."
"I was waiting for the cross," Negelspach said, "and as soon as I saw it I got in the box and was waiting for it. I got in front of the keeper and headed it in."
"Those two have such a good connection," Jark said. "I call Grace my queen volley girl because she is so good at redirecting balls in the box into the net. She's phenomenal."
Negelspach had scored the winning goal on a header to beat Hillsboro 3-2 on Oct. 17, in a game that the Spartans led 2-0 midway through the second half.
"This one's a lot better," Negelspach said of her winner. "The crowd was here for Senior Night, and it was really cool."
"We fought hard. It was a well-deserved win," Davidson said.
Having a defense and goalkeeper (senior Faith Woodall) that refused to give up a second goal also was huge.
"Our defense worked really well together, especially in the second half," senior defender Emma Jones said, adding that "it's really fun to play on this football field and under the lights."
Woodall had little work to do in the first half.
"I felt pretty relaxed," she said.
And then on came the Kingsmen.
"In the second half, they picked up the pressure," Woodall said. "But our defenders are the most trustworthy people. They keep me protected from all the people who are shooting on me. I trust them with my life."
• The Indians added to their 2019 win total on Tuesday, downing Columbia County rival St. Helens 3-0 in a night game at St. Helens.
Jones, Davidson and sophomore midfielder Kiera Fagan scored the goals. Havlik had an assist on a night with freezing-like wind-chill temperatures.
St. Helens led 1-0 at the half.
"We were persistent and kept up the pressure in the second half and continued to work hard," Jark said.
Senior midfielder Taryn Verzino and Jones won a lot of 50-50 balls in the air, and the Lions had the wind at their back, which helped them stretch the lead as they crashed the net and followed up on shots.
• The Indians and Lions were set to finish their regular-season schedule on Thursday, with Scappoose playing host to La Salle Prep, and with St. Helens at Milwaukie.
And so now it is playoff time for Scappoose, which has earned one of the four automatic berths in the 16-team 5A field.
The state rankings will freeze on Saturday night, and then pairings will be determined for the first round of the postseason, which will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
With the Indians bouncing back nicely in the past week or so from their 3-2 loss to league champion Wilsonville, Scappoose players have some reasons for optimism going into the 5A playoffs.
Jark has said it starts with the defense led by Jones and others.
"Emma is always huge in the back," Jark said. "She literally came out of nowhere on two plays (against Putnam) to clear things out. I don't even know how she gets there."
And the transition to offense gives Scappoose scoring power.
"I feel very confident in our ability to keep up with other teams, including ones that are possibly even better than us," Davidson said. "I feel like we can stay with them."
Overall, "we have a really positive team culture," Jones said, "and we're all willing to work hard for each other. So we're able to come back from being tied or from being down."
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