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Defense, two solid strikes lift Indians past Springfield in Class 5A girls opener

COURTESY PHOTO: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose players enjoy a moment after their second goal in Tuesday's 2-0 victory at home over Springfield in the Class 5A playoffs. From left are Tessa Davidson, Grace Negelspach, Emma Jones, Taryn Verzino, Rylee Cook and Anika Havlik. It was smooth sailing into the state quarterfinals for Scappoose High's girls soccer team.

The Indians scored early in the first half and early in the second half Tuesday at Chinook Fields to oust Springfield 2-0 in their Class 5A first-round game.

Scappoose outplayed the Millers throughout the afternoon.

"The whole team — it was really a group effort," Indians coach Summer Jark said. "I was so pleased and happy for these girls. They really, really worked hard and played a good game."

The victory was due in part to a rock-solid defense.

Junior center back Rylee Cook said she looked over the team's scores this season on Monday night "and almost every game we got scored on — so I wanted the defense to get a shutout, that was my big goal going into the game."

The back line, also led by senior Emma Jones, junior Autumn Terry and sophomore Sydney Hanke, "was so solid," Jark said. "They did a wonderful job winning balls and distributing to feet, building play from the back."

The midfield — led by juniors Anika Havlik and Grace Negelspach and senior Taryn Verzino — was so tight that Springfield had a hard time getting into any dangerous positions.

"Ani, Grace and Taryn were winning everything in the middle," Jark said.

Sophomore midfielder Kiera Fagan was a workhorse, too.

"She's just getting better and better," Jark said. "She's helping out in the middle when she's not on the wing. Her work ethic is amazing."

And, the Indians' offense came through with two good-looking goals.

First, junior midfielder stepped up to pick up a short Springfield goal kick, then went straight for the goal before unloading with a shot from just outside the box that found the left corner for a 1-0 lead 11:23 into the game.

"I got the ball, turned and saw the open net and decided to take my chances," Davidson said. "I saw the left corner open and knew that was my only chance."

While one goal was very nice, two was so much better.

And the Indians' second goal came on a patented Negelspach strike from distance as well.

"I got the throw-in from Taryn, turned and hit it and it went in," Negelspach said.

The left-footed blast hit the far, right post and caromed in.

"It happened pretty fast and felt really good," Negelspach said.

Jark said a linesman said he'd seen more than 60 games this season "and that it was the best shot he's seen all year."

Negelspach's score came 8:51 into the second half, and by then the Indians already looked like an even better team — one that was even more aggressive and confident. They remained that way to the final whistle, too.

"Our second half was exceptional," Jark said. "We started really playing possession, knocking the ball around, and that helped us tire (the Millers) out a little.

"We just took control."

Davidson was a big part of that, as Springfield tried in vain to get the ball once she chased it down or took possession.

Jark was impressed with how "Tessa owned their back line. She took people on, she played beautiful balls in, she played through balls, she was constantly working, and she was so physical up there. She had a great game."

Having the lead made things better and easier, Davidson said.

"We were more confident because we were up on them," she said.

"We found our rhythm with our passing in the second half," Verzino said, "and we knew we were tiring them out."

And, especially after the second goal, "we knew we could do this," Negelspach said.

The Indians came into the game remembering that a year ago they weren't able to pull off a first-round victory. They lost 4-2 at Corvallis to open the 2018 playoffs.

"We came in super excited because we really wanted to go for it this year," Cook said.

Tuesday's win put Scappoose into the final eight in the Oregon School Activities Association playoffs.

The Indians will play at noon Saturday at North Eugene.

Scappoose is ranked fifth in the state and has an 11-3-2 record; North Eugene is ranked fourth and is 9-2-3.

The Highlanders spent much of the year ranked No. 1. Their only loss was 2-0 at Churchill on Oct. 29. On Tuesday, they won their first-round game 4-0 at home against Putnam, which gave the Indians a strong test on Oct. 24 at Scappoose before falling 2-1.

Springfield came into Tuesday's game as the No. 12-ranked team in 5A, after placing fifth in the Midwestern League (North Eugene was third). The Millers finished their season with a mark of 5-7-3.

Senior Neviah Lee was the Millers' biggest offensive threat.

"She gave us a run for our money, but we figured out her skills, what she's good at and not so good at," Cook said.

Havlik was key in slowing down Lee.

"Major props to Ani," Jark said. "She worked so hard defensively and did a great job shutting down (Lee)."

And, if the Indians had needed any extra motivation, they got it after practice on Monday.

A FaceTime call from two former Scappoose stars, Lucy Davidson and Natalie Muth, both now seniors on the team at the University of Portland, gave the current Indians an emotional boost.

"I feel like that really pumped them up," Jark said.

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