Columbia River soccer back in state after rolling past Hazen

Chieftains will face Auburn Mountainview on Saturday

By Micah Rice, Columbian sports editor

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Playoffs? Child's play.

The defending state champion Columbia River girls soccer team cruised through its first postseason test Thursday, beating Hazen of Renton 4-0 in a Class 3A bi-district playoff game at Kiggins Bowl.

In the process, the Chieftains clinched a return trip to the 3A state playoffs.

After going undefeated through the Greater St. Helens League season, River kept on rolling. Two goals in the game's first six minutes gave Columbia River a stranglehold it would never loosen.

But as easy as Columbia River made it look in Thursday's victory, the Chieftains are under no illusion that the rest of the postseason will be a cakewalk.

"Down the road it's going to be harder teams, more pressure and harder intensity," said Ellie Walker, who scored twice Thursday. "You know the only team that's going to beat you is yourself. So you need to keep pushing through everything."

Columbia River plays for the bi-district championship Saturday at Mount Tahoma High School in Tacoma.

The Chieftains will face Auburn Mountainview in a game that guarantees the winner home field in its first two playoff games.

Thursday opened the next chapter in River's season, one it hopes will follow a similar plot to last year.

"Going undefeated in league is great, but we always had higher aspirations," River coach Filomon Afenegus said. "The girls are intrinsically motivated. We have a lot of seniors that want to do well, so that helps as well."

Hazen, the No. 2 seed from the South Puget Sound League/Seamount leagues, plays Prairie on Saturday in a winner-to-state/loser out game.

Walker put Columbia River on the board in the fourth minute. She chipped the ball by Hazen's keeper after emerging from a scrum 10 yards in front of goal.

Two minutes later, Charlene Burger put River up 2-0 after putting home a flicked-on header from Emily Kleier.

River extended its lead in the 28th minute. Megan Bloom scored from close range after Marion Lilly's shot bounced off the post.

Walker scored her second goal in the 51st minute, striking a low right-footed shot into the net from 15 yards.