KALAMA — Some might say Ridgefield’s Class 1A girls soccer state quarterfinal match Saturday against University Prep of Seattle was decided by inches.
But others might say it was just a matter of time.
The constant pressure put on by University Prep produced a goal — despite the best effort of Ridgefield goalkeeper Jenna Rogers — with six minutes to go and sent the Pumas to a 2-1 victory.
The loss was the first of the season for Ridgefield (18-1) and ended the Spudders’ hopes for a first trip to the state semifinals in girls soccer.
And it all swung away from Ridgefield in the second half, when the Pumas produced eight corner kicks.
“We dug ourselves a hole by giving up silly balls left and right,” Ridgefield coach Robby Trimbo said. “And it just gets worse and worse as the game goes on because we spend more time in our defensive end than we do moving forward. We’re just not used to being bunkered in that much.”
On the eighth corner kick, University Prep’s tall junior midfielder Ayana O’Neal jumped to head-in the entry kick from Claire O’Brien.
O’Neal hit the ball, forcing Rogers to make a diving save attempt.
But Rogers could only manage to deflect the ball into the air. She recovered and punched the ball away from the goal, but not until the officials ruled that it had crossed into the goal.
“They have one very strong midfield player,” Trimbo said. “And she’s is just of a size and caliber that we just can’t compete with for balls in the air.”
The Spudders played University Prep tough in the first half, creating a couple of scoring chances of their own. But the game remained scoreless at halftime.
“This is the best Seattle has to offer,” Trimbo said. “And I think if we would’ve finished one goal in the first half, the second half would have gone much better.”
Instead, University Prep scored the game’s first goal when India Jencks connected five minutes into the second half.
Ridgefield countered just two minutes later when Karina Jimenez fielded a ball that the Pumas had attempted to clear and lofted a long, high shot from 30 yards out that landed just over the outreached hand of Prep goalie Corryn Wetzel for the goal.
“I’m so proud of this group,” Trimbo said. “To play against a team that has more experience and is just at a different caliber and fight like this the entire game. It would have been so easy for us to just drop our head and give up.”