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Second-half goals lift Highlanders to quarterfinal win in girls soccer playoffs

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - One of the many highlights for Indian girls soccer this season came when Tessa Davidson (left) connected with Grace Negelspach in the box late in a game at Scappoose High, and Negelspach headed home the winning goal.EUGENE — The ball didn't bounce Scappoose's way last Saturday, as the North Eugene Highlanders bounced the Indians from the state girls soccer playoffs.

After a solid first half by Scappoose, North Eugene got two goals in the final 20 minutes of the game to win 2-0 on its home turf and advance to the Class 5A semifinals.

"We had the better first half," Scappoose coach Summer Jark said, "so I was confident we were either going to be tied at the end or were going to win."

But North Eugene banged home a loose ball after a corner kick to grab the lead, then got a late insurance goal on run through the Scappoose back line, and that was all the home team needed.

The Highlanders went on to lose 1-0 to No. 1-ranked Crescent Valley in a Tuesday Oregon School Activities Association semifinal game at Corvallis.

Scappoose went home with its first loss in an eight-game, late-season run, and with an 11-4-1 final record.

The Indians, ranked fifth in the state, were coming off a 2-0 victory at home over Springfield in the 5A first round.

North Eugene (10-3-3 after its Tuesday loss in the state semis) had advanced past the first round by defeating Putnam 4-0. The Highlanders allowed a total of only eight goals in their first 15 games.

Scappoose fired eight shots in the first half and held the Highlanders to three.

"Defensively, we never let them in close in the first half," Jark said.

The fateful corner kick didn't get cleared and then, after the ball off a post and off the hands of Scappoose senior goalkeeper Faith Woodall, it bounced around on the ground and got punched in by North Eugene.

"We knew that could happen; we were trying not to give up corners or set pieces because they looked very dangerous with those," Jark said of the Highlanders.

The Indians had some chances of their own in the first half.

"We should have finished a couple of opportunities," Jark said. "It could have been a different game.

"But the girls worked extremely hard and worked till the last minute. I was super proud of them."

That was one of the hallmarks of the 2019 Indians, who achieved some significant goals, including that they won more games overall and got farther in the playoffs than they had the year before, when they lost 4-2 at Corvallis and finished 9-5-1.

Along the way, the Indians had many sparkling and memorable moments.

Jark said it was a special year by a special group. Three wins to open the season and a 1-1 road tie with small-school power Catlin Gabel. A three-game outburst in the final quarter of a match at Chinook Fields that turned a 2-0 deficit against Hillsboro into a 3-2 win. A late goal headed in by Grace Negelspach off a pass from Tessa Davidson to turn away Putnam 2-1 on the field at Scappoose High.

"The chemistry was probably the most special of all the years I've coached," she said. "There just wasn't anything all year, nothing ever brought up to me. The seniors gave us excellent leadership. They're just the best kids, so kind, so phenomenal with the chemistry they had.

"I'm so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful culture, with wonderful support from the school, the community and the parents."

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