CAMAS -- Given the track record for the Camas girls soccer program -- nine consecutive state tournament berths and one state title under coach Roland Minder -- it should surprise no one that the Papermakers have reached the state semifinals.
But given the hurdles Minder's team has had to clear this fall, the fact that the Papermakers will play Issaquah on Friday in a semifinal match can accurately be described as unexpected.
In part because of injuries that have ended the season for forwards Savanna Joyce and Diane Dyra, this is not a typical Camas team. The Papermakers (17-3-1) are playing without any true forwards. But their defenders and midfielders have found ways to keep forging ahead.
"To me, it's amazing what this group of girls is accomplishing," Minder said.
The coach expects that his team is viewed as a clear underdog heading into the final four. But, pointing to unique chemistry and work-ethic, he is not lowering expectations.
"I'm certainly not going to bet against this team, given what they've accomplished so far," Minder said.
In its first season at the large-school classification, Camas finished tied with Union for the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League title. But after battling Union to a scoreless draw in the first clash of those rivals, the Papermakers lost twice to the Titans late in the season.
Still, the Papermakers -- who start freshman Lauren Rood at goalkeeper and freshman Anyssa Devera on defense -- entered the playoffs with confidence.
"To be honest, I'm not surprised" to be in the state semifinals, team captain Jamie Carter said.
While Camas has struggled at times to finish scoring opportunities -- 28 of the 55 goals Camas has scored came in three one-sided matches -- the Papermaker defense has been consistent despite its youth. Of the eight goals Camas has allowed, five came in the two late-season losses to Union.
The 3-0 loss to Union in the district championship match turned out to be a bit of fortune for the Papermakers. Union drew defending state champion Skyline, a one-loss team, in its first state tournament game and lost a tough 2-1 match. Camas -- unranked by the Seattle Times -- opened state with a 2-0 win at ninth-ranked Moses Lake and then advanced to the semifinals with a tiebreaker win over unranked Mead of Spokane.
In Issaquah, Camas faces the team ranked No. 5.
The other semifinal features Skyline against top-ranked Tahoma.