Canton delivers in clutch as River soccer wins district title

Goalkeeper scores winning penalty kick Chieftains

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer

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Liz Canton’s finally got her moment.

The Columbia River junior goalkeeper knows her role as the Chieftains’ shootout specialist. And when Thursday’s Class 2A girls soccer district title match against Hockinson at Kiggins Bowl went into penalty kicks after 80 regulation minutes and two five-minute golden-goal overtimes, this was it.

“It’s all on you,” she said. “I believed in myself, and props to my team for keeping it there, and letting me have the opportunity to win it for them.”

And she did. In River’s first shootout of the year, Canton saved four shots in a epic shootout that featured 16 players to give the Chieftains a 1-0 (5-4 penalty kicks) victory over the Hawks for their fourth consecutive district title.

It was all part of shootout that featured 16 shooters, a combined six goalkeeper saves, and a keeper-on-keeper final shot that ended with the Chieftains’ celebrating.

Columbia River claimed the No. 1 seed to state and a home playoff game to open the 2A state playoffs next Tuesday or Wednesday against either Clarkston or Ephrata.

Canton saved Hockinson keeper Jenna Talarico’s shot, the Hawks’ eight shooter in the round, for her final save. Talarico saved two shots in the shootout after playing the entire game. Canton entered the game in the final two minutes of the second overtime with both teams still scoreless.

River and Hockinson split their 2A Greater St. Helens League regular-season meetings, 2-1 (Hockinson) and 1-0 (River), but Thursday remained a defensive battle all game.

In the 73rd minute, either team’s best chance at scoring came when Talarico made a diving stop on a shot 15 yards out by River’s Shalece Easley, immediately followed by a Hockinson defender’s slide tackle on a rebound.

In stoppage time, Yaneisy Rodriguez’s free kick hit the crossbar, sending the scoreless game into the first overtime.

River coach Filly Afenegus said his team, which stretched its unbeaten streak to 14 matches in a row and hasn’t lost since its 2-1 defeat to Hockinson on Sept. 19, continues to trend upward.

“That’s what you want to be doing at this point in the year,” he said.

And Thursday was no different from what he called a complete team performance.

Making its first state appearance since 2015, Hockinson travels to face the loser of Saturday’s District 3 title match between White River and North Kitsap early next week to open the 2A state playoffs.