Prep roundup: Union's hard work pays off with district soccer title

By Paul Danzer, Columbian community sports reporter

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The Union girls soccer team might have gone through a sluggish spell at midseason.

But there was no trouble with the Titans' work rate when the opponent was rival Camas.

An early transition goal gave Union the upper hand in Wednesday's district title match at McKenzie Stadium, and the Titans controlled play most of the way in a convincing 3-0 win that makes the Titans district champions.

Both teams will play bi-district playoff matches on Saturday at McKenzie Stadium. Union will take on Rogers of Puyallup at 2 p.m. Camas will face Federal Way at 4 p.m. Saturday's winners advance to the 16-team Class 4A state tournament.

"We started dropping off in the middle of the season because we weren't practicing as hard," said senior forward Bobbi Eckler, who assisted on two Titans' goals. "But we picked it back up because we realized that without practicing hard we can't play well in the games."

The games the Titans were targeting were against their biggest rivals, knowing that league and district supremacy would be on the line when the teams clashed.

"We were always looking forward to playing Camas," Eckler said.

On Wednesday, her team didn't need much time to forge in front of the Papermakers.

In the 11th minute, Eckler delivered a perfect pass between Camas defenders that sent freshman Bella Caughie on a breakaway and a quick 1-0 lead.

"She called for it," Eckler said of Caughie. "She made a great run. The pass was pretty easy because she was there."

Eckler said the early goal was important because it put Camas on its heels. Eckler also said that last week's 2-0 win over Camas in the regular-season finale was a big part of Wednesday's success.

"I think that game was even more important than this game," Eckler said. "Last week, we had to overcome our nerves."

On Wednesday, Camas struggled to put any kind of a scare into Union.

"I couldn't be more proud of our entire group, of how they fought and overcame some adversity in the middle of the year to fight our way back to a league championship and a district title," Union coach Kelcey Burris said. "Now the second season starts."

Volleyball

1A district tournament -- King's Way Christian won back-to-back matches Wednesday in Montesano to clinch a berth in the Class 1A state tournament.

The Knights beat Forks 25-21, 25-12, 25-13, then beat Woodland 25-13, 25-23, 25-13 to reach the district final Saturday against Castle Rock.

Erin Sprowls had 11 kills, and McKenzie Davis added nine kills and seven digs in the win over Forks. Sprowls added 12 kills, and Andrea Demlow had eight aces and nine digs in the match against Woodland.

Woodland beat Montesano 25-16, 25-19, 25-20 in the first round. The Beavers will face White Salmon in a winner-to-state/loser-out match on Saturday. Nicole Nesbitt has 27 assists and 10 digs in the win over Montesano.