Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Feb. 8, 2023

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Union boys soccer fit to be tied with Camas

But 2-2 draw still gives Papermakersā€™ top seed to district

By , Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter

CAMAS — A couple of early goals had the Camas Papermakers poised to clinch the outright 4A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer championship on Tuesday.

But Union changed the dynamic in the second half and produced a pair of late goals to earn a 2-2 draw at Doc Harris Stadium.

The result means the Titans (9-1-1 in league, 10-3-1 overall) can share the league title with the Papermakers if they beat Evergreen on Thursday. Because it won the first match against Union, Camas (10-1-1, 14-1-1) will be the No. 1 seed for next week’s Class 4A district tournament.

Camas and Union will both play in district semifinals on Monday at McKenzie Stadium against the survivors of Saturday elimination matches. Game times are 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.

A perfectly-placed free kick by Jonathan Granados in the 77th minute sent Tuesday’s match into overtime. Neither side could find a winning goal in the extra 10 minutes.

“I was confident that was going to go in,” Granados said of his shot from just outside the penalty area on the left wing. He curled the ball beyond the reach of Camas goalkeeper Brian Murray and into the upper right corner of the goal.

Belief was central to the Union rally, according to Granados and senior defender Eric Switzer.

“Just talking to each other and playing for each other and knowing that we all have each other’s backs — and just belief,” Granados said.

The 2-0 Camas lead was built on a quality counter-attack run by Bennett Lehner and a fortunate shot from distance.

Lehner made a strong run up the right sideline off a play that started from a Union corner kick, and crossed the ball to an unmarked Josh Tkachenko for the first goal in the game’s 13th minute.

The second Camas goal was less traditional. Defender Brennan Smith found himself with time and lofted a 40-yard shot into the goal 21 minutes into the match.

In the second half, the Papermakers were not allowed to have the kind of space that allowed Smith to shoot.

“We were pressing them a lot more and that made a large difference,” Union’s Switzer said. “They didn’t have time to look for the ball and know exactly where they wanted to go because of the high pressure.”

The Union rally gained momentum with a series of corner kicks creating havoc in front of the Camas goal. Defender Nicolas Sommariva poked home the first Union goal in the 69th minute, converting from a scramble created by a Granados corner-kick delivery.

Granados said the Titans did a better job supporting each other, both emotionally and positionally, in the second half.

“This just gives us a little bit more confidence in ourselves, knowing that if we play for each other” good things can happen, Granados said.

Both Lehner and Camas coach Roland Minder said the Papermakers played the second half the way the Titans wanted it played, with battles in the air more frequent than passing combinations on the ground.

“That 2-0 lead is just dangerous,” Lehner said. “We came out flat (in the second half). We didn’t play our game at all. We adjusted to their game. … We just couldn’t get settled.”

The silver lining for Minder was that his side survived to secure the top seed and at least a share of the league title. But the second half raised some concerns for the Camas coach.

“Looking down the road we have a lot of work to do if we want to go deep into the playoffs because we can’t let ourselves be taken out of our game like that,” Minder said.

Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter