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Girls Soccer Preview: Fighting through pain, fatigue

Players say prep matches can be ‘brutal’

By Paul Danzer, Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter
Published: September 15, 2016, 11:28pm

The intensity on the field at Prairie High School on Thursday evening was proof that the high school girls soccer season is ramping up. The words ruthless and brutal were used to describe how the high school games differ from the club soccer that many of the varsity players experience.

“High school soccer is very aggressive. Girls play differently because you’re playing for your school. So girls become a little bit more ruthless,” MaKayla Woods said.

A Union junior, Woods is not yet playing for the Titans as she works her way back from a knee injury. The forward is committed to play college soccer at the University of Washington and said that the physical nature of the high school game is one reason she is taking her time.

Prairie senior Aimee Kurfurst agreed that the level of competition and energy is much higher in high school games than in most club soccer.

“It’s a lot more brutal. You’re getting beat up more, and then having to play after you’re beat up,” Kurfurst said. “It’s fighting through injuries and fighting through fatigue. You have to dig deep and really want it. You have to go out there and really work for it.”

Plenty of players got work in on Thursday as Prairie and Union rotated players in and out of the early-season match, which the Falcons won 1-0 on a second-half goal by Madi Ellis.

Ellis had a busy summer, playing in youth soccer regional and national tournaments with the FC Salmon Creek Nemesis.

“Going from regionals to nationals and now high school, it’s busy,” Ellis said. “Lots of fun though.”

Union senior Angelina Krawczyk played multiple positions on Thursday for a Union team that includes seven freshmen. A teammate of Kurfurst at FC Salmon Creek in club soccer, Krawczyk said she enjoys the physical nature of the high school matches.

Krawczyk is optimistic the Titans will be successful once the young players adjust to the pace of high school soccer. Union hit the post several times and had one chance cleared by a defender. The Titans have hit the post 11 times so far this season.

“We just need to keep our heads up and look to improve,” Krawczyk said. “No one really knows each other. We have so many new players, connecting and bonding is a challenge. But we have lots of really talented players.”

Woods, who suffered her knee injury while scoring a goal against Heritage last fall, hopes to join the fun sometime in October.

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“I’m cleared to play soccer, but soccer is not something you can just jump into,” she said.

Woods is practicing with the Titans, but avoiding contact and learning to play with a knee brace.

“I really want to play this season,” she said. “Watching the girls out there, how hard they’re working, I really want to be able to contribute.”

Five things to watch this girls soccer season

Returning all-stars: Six players named to The Columbian’s all-region girls soccer team in 2015 return in 2015. That includes 2015 player of the year Taryn Ries of Ridgefield, now a senior who plans to play for the University of Portland. The others are Camas senior midfielder Sabine Postma, Columbia River senior forward Ellie Walker, Columbia River junior defender Sophie Landers, Prairie junior defender Kendal Spencer and King’s Way Christian sophomore Mackenzie Ellertson.

Tough in 2A GSHL: With Columbia River dropping to Class 2A, this league now includes two of the most consistent programs in the region. Columbia River has made 18 state tournament appearances, including the past four seasons at Class 3A. The Chieftains were 3A state champions in 2009 and 2012. Ridgefield has made 14 state appearances including five in the last six years, and reached 2A final four the past two seasons. The Spudders lost to Squalicum in the 2A state finals last season and finished third the previous season.

Veteran Papermakers: Camas returns 14 players, eight who started, from the team that finished third in the Class 4A state tournament last fall. Those who started for the Papermakers in 2015 are goalkeeper Julia Coombs, defenders Ashley Carter and Perri Belzer, midfielders Sabine Postma, Hannah Taie and forwards Alyssa Tomasini, Sarah Davidson and Maddie Kemp. Camas has qualified for state 11 of the last 12 years. The Papermakers placed third last season. They won the 3A state championship in 2005, placed third in 2009 and were fourth in Class 4A in 2012.

Playoff paths: The 4A and 3A GSHL will each send three teams to a 16-team bi-district playoff (with District 3) that will determine eight state tournament teams. There is no district tournament. The top two teams in the GSHL advance to the winner-to-state bi-district round, with each league champion hosting its bi-district match. The third-place team will host the fourth-place team with the winner advancing to bidistrict. n the 2A GSHL, the top four teams advance to the District 4 tournament. The number of state berths for District 4 at 2A and 1A should be announced next week.

Must-see match ups: Camas and Union renew their rivalry on Oct. 4 at McKenzie Stadium and on Oct. 20 at Doc Harris Stadium. Columbia River at Ridgefield on Oct. 6. Spudders prevailed on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw on Tuesday in the first league match for both teams. Seton Catholic vs. King’s Way Christian on Oct. 11 and Oct. 27. Both teams qualified for the Class 1A state tournament a year ago.

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Columbian Soccer, hockey and Community Sports Reporter