The final show wasn't the best performance from the Camas boys soccer team. The Bainbridge Spartans put the Papermakers under plenty of pressure during Saturday's Class 3A state championship match.
But when it was time for a big finish, Camas delivered.
(Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)Buy this photo
(Zachary Kaufman/The Columbian)Buy this photo
Freshman Nathan Beasley scored two first-half goals and senior Parker Roland finished a second-half corner kick, lifting the Papermakers to a 3-0 triumph in the WIAA Class 3A title match at Harry Lang Stadium.
This is the third state title for Camas boys soccer, all in the last six years. Several of the senior leader were on the championship team of 2008.
But unlike some years, including 2010, this Camas team wasn't viewed as championship material at the start of the season.
"Certainly not at the beginning of the year," midfielder Roland said. "It was a new squad. I was more confident last year going into the playoffs."
The defensive four in front of senior goalkeeper Zach Anderson had to be constructed from scratch at the season's start. And these Papermakers were relying on a couple of freshmen in key roles.
With junior Wyatt Brown and freshman Matt Palodichuk standing tall in the middle, and senior Michael Dyra and juniors Michael Koceja and Bryce Ponder doing work on the outside, the Camas defense on Saturday posted its 14th shutout of the season and fourth in five playoff matches.
That didn't seem likely at the start of the season, nor with the way Saturday's title tilt began. Bainbridge, which beat top-ranked Glacier Peak on penalty kicks in Friday's semifinals, was the assertive side from the start.
"They found the seams really well. They positioned themselves really well," Camas coach Roland Minder said of the Spartans. "We did not go hard to the ball. We played kind of fake pressure and didn't pressure the ball the way we should."
Michael Crowlley had two early chances for the Spartans, and Bainbridge thought it had the lead when Connor Winship's shot sliced into the goal in the game's 17th minute.
But that was disallowed because an offside Spartan.
"When they put that in, it changed our mindset," Camas senior midfielder Chris Miller said. "We went at it (after that). We were more aggressive."
Less than two minutes later, Camas had something better than momentum. It had a lead.
Miller took a free kick from outside of the 18-yard box that Beasley got a head on, then turned and fired into the side of the net.
"I saw it bounce and I just spun my body around and launched it at the goal," Beasley said.
"He did a wonderful job," Miller said. "He chested it, had composure, and just slotted it in. We could not have asked any more from Nate."
Beasley, whose two older brothers played on previous Camas state champions, gave more with a second goal 11:50 before halftime. That goal was the product of Drew White's speed and footwork.
White was being tracked by four Spartans along the attacking left sideline. He managed to shuffle a pass to Roland, who sent a forward pass that White chased down behind the defense. He took it all the way to the extended goal line before passing it back to the waiting Beasley 10 yards in front of goal.
The 2-0 lead never seemed safe. Bainbridge was especially dangerous on long free kicks, and Anderson made several tough catches and big punches to clear the ball in addition to his eight saves. On one of the catches, the Spartans thought they had a goal to climb within 2-1. But the assistant referee ruled that Bainbridge had fouled Anderson while the keeper was airborne.
"Zach did a great job in goal, and our defense did a great job in keeping them out, because they had chances galore," Minder said.
Two of Anderson's best stops were a tip stop on a Alex Coplan header in the 46th minute, and a sliding stop late in the match when Winship broke free inside the 18-yard box.
"They went 100 percent the whole time," Anderson said. "They really wanted it. Luckily, we were able to keep them scoreless."
With the Spartans pressing forward as the second half progressed, the Papermakers' counter-attack became more dangerous. They just missed a third goal a couple of times before Roland stepped up and rifled home a 20-yard volley from a corner kick to make it 3-0 with 11:32 left in the game.
"You can kind of aim, but the biggest thing when your trying to hit a volley on a ball that is coming down is to not get under it," Roland said. "I was just trying to hit it low and hard, and I got all of it."
That goal allowed the Papermakers to enjoy their last 10 minutes as teammates.
"It's overwhelming," White said, describing his emotions as the time ticked away. "You think about your freshman year and playing in the state final. It's weird how time goes by."
The six senior starters, most of whose connection goes back to youth soccer, included midfielders Drew Gourlie, Miller, and Roland, White up front, Dyra in the back and Anderson in goal.
"We're all seniors going of to college and these are guys I'm going to keep close to forever," White said. "It's a great feeling."
The coach said he will remember these Camas champions for the way they grew together as the spring progressed.
"To me, the biggest accomplishment was that these players came from 10 different club teams," Minder said. "Several of them didn't know each other really well. The way the chemistry evolved over the season, and how they learned to really love each other and play like brothers, that to me is the most impressive."