Ridgefield boys soccer team rises to the occasion

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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KALAMA — From the start of Tuesday’s Class 1A boys soccer playoff match, the Ridgefield Spudders were head and shoulders above Cedar Park Christian.

But it wasn’t until midfielder Charlie Hauser rose to meet a corner kick 52 minutes after the start at Kalama High School that the Spudders had an advantage on their way to a 2-0 win over the Eagles from Bothell.

“I saw the ball fly and it came to me and I took my opportunity,” Hauser said. “I guess it was an adrenaline rush that sent me into the air.”

Hauser connected squarely with Brad Abella’s corner kick, a sophomore connection that turned an impressive push from the Ridgefield offense into a lead.

When senior Taylor Konkright made it 2-0 with 17:33 remaining, it was clear the Spudders would remain unbeaten and advance into the state quarterfinals. Ridgefield (16-0-0) will meet the winner of Wednesday’s match between White Salmon and Seattle Academy on Friday or Saturday, The Spudders will be the host team, but the site and time for the quarterfinal are to be determined.

On Tuesday, strong play in central midfield from Hauser and junior Tanner Konkright set the tone as Ridgefield won the majority of battles for contested balls. But it wasn’t until the second half that the Spudders began to produce real pressure on the Cedar Park Christian goal.

Ridgefield coach Jason Staley was pleased with the Spudders’ first-half effort.

“We controlled the ball, we passed really well, we had scoring opportunities. It was just a matter of putting it in the back of the net,” Staley said.

“In the second half we picked up the pressure a little bit and had it in the attacking third even more often,” the coach said, adding that the Eagles “were a little bit out of sorts trying to figure it out.”

Both Ridgefield goals were the kind that make a coach smile. The well-executed corner kick was timely, and the second goal came at the end of four or five quick passes as the ball moved from midfield, with Dalton Reis making the final pass to put Taylor Konkright in front of the goal.

“We worked the ball side to side well and passed really nicely,” Staley said. “To get a goal like that off the flow of play was really nice.”

So was getting breathing room in the first elimination match of this season for the Spudders.

“The second one was huge,” Taylor Konkright said. “It pretty much seals the game.”

The second goal didn’t seem all that necessary until the last few minutes, when Ridgefield goalkeeper Tyson Wright had to make his only three saves of the match. That included stopping a penalty kick from Ceder Park’s Steven Dressler, followed by a rebound chance.