CAMAS — If there is a sure thing in Washington high school boys soccer, it is that the Camas Papermakers play in the state tournament.
Not since 1998 has a Papermaker season ended before the start of the state tournament, a string of success that the 2013 team certainly didn’t want to end.
That was evident Saturday as Camas pounded Auburn Riverside 4-0 in a bi-district playoff match at McKenzie Stadium to earn the program’s 15th consecutive state tournament berth.
But, in some ways, 2013 is not just another season for Camas. The Papermaker roster is dominated by sophomores and juniors. And this school year is Camas’ first in Washington’s large-school classification.
“The guys know we have the history,” said Roland Minder, in his 19th season as the Papermakers’ coach. “They didn’t want to be the first one not to make it there.”
And yet, early in the season, there were reasonable questions about how Camas woud make it happen.
Camas lost two of its first three matches, then lost to both Skyview and to Union in the first round of league games.
But there was no sign of those struggles on a warm Saturday afternoon. Sophomore forward Cameron Eyman had two goals and an assist, sophomore midfielder Cayne Cardwell scored five minutes into the match, and the Papermakers dominated the Ravens.
The reward for Camas is a rematch with a Skyline of Sammamish team that beat the Papermakers 3-2 in the season opener. Skyline was unbeaten until losing 4-0 to Issaquah in their district championship match, a surprise result that sends Skyline to Doc Harris Stadium in the first round of the Class 4A state tournament. The game will be Tuesday at a time to be determined.
Cardwell’s early goal — on a shot from outside the penalty area that cleanly beat Auburn Riverside goalkeeper Adrian Ocon — got the ball rolling on Saturday.
“I had some space and looked up and thought I might have a crack at it,” Cardwell said. “I saw he was off his line a little bit at the near post, so I thought I had some space at the far post and luckily it went in.”
Space was something the Papermakers found all over the field on Saturday. The Ravens played an attack-heavy formation with five players in forward positions. That left plenty of room for Camas to control and create through the midfield.
“We had a lot of space in the middle, but I thought we combined well on the wings and in the wide channels and got some crosses in and finished a couple of those,” Cardwell said.
Eyman scored goals off passes from Austin Cassity in the 18th minute and from Nate Beasley in the 28th minute to make the halftime score 3-0. Caleb Morrisey made it 4-0 on another Beasley assist midway through the second half, and the margin would have been wider if not for 10 saves from Ocon. Eyman and Cardwell each said it took some time for this Camas roster to find the common purpose needed for success.
Camas (14-4) has won seven consecutive matches.
“It means a lot. (Classification) 3A or 4A doesn’t matter, state is state,” Minder said. “Having come from where we began, I’m really proud of the players. They really committed, they set high goals for themselves and they were true to their expectations.”
Eyman said the losses to Skyview and Union in the first cycle of league play kicked up the urgency. He expressed pride in the ground his team has covered since.
“I really like our lineup,” Eyman said. “Working with all these guys, they all know what they are doing. They really give me comfort out there, just knowing that they’ll always have my back.”
The Papermakers are indeed in a comfortable spot — back in the state tournament.