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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Camas girls soccer finishes runner-up in 4A state championship

Minder’s last on-field talk after 24 years as head coach leaves lasting impact

By Andy Buhler, Columbian Staff Writer
Published: November 17, 2018, 8:45pm
9 Photos
Camas sophomore defender Josephine Rein (right) fights for the ball with Skyline's Katelyn Reilly (left) in the Papermakers' 2-1 loss in the 4A state championship game at Sparks Stadium.
Camas sophomore defender Josephine Rein (right) fights for the ball with Skyline's Katelyn Reilly (left) in the Papermakers' 2-1 loss in the 4A state championship game at Sparks Stadium. (Andy Buhler/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

PUYALLUP — With tears in their eyes, coaches and players huddled together on the field one last time.

And one last time, the team draped arms around each other and tuned as head coach Roland Minder give his post game dispatch.

This time would be different.

It would be his last, as Saturday evening was his last game after 24 years as a head coach at Camas High School.

And coming at the heels of a 2-1 loss in the 4A state championship to Skyline, which bookended a postseason run that included high-scoring games, low-scoring stalemates and, not 24 hours prior, the most remarkable comeback in Camas soccer history, coach’s words carried that much more weight on the cold evening at Carl Sparks Stadium.

“The spirits are way down,” Minder said. “There are certain players who feel personally responsible for a loss, because of things that happened. There’s hurt. At that point you have to pull a team together and let them know that each single one is appreciated. I tell them I love them, which I do.”

How did Minder address his team in such a moment? By speaking from the heart.

“You have to,” he said. “There’s no script for that.”

— Andy Buhler (@AndyBuhler) November 18, 2018

In many ways, there was no script for Camas’ postseason.

The Papermakers finished runners up in the 4A state playoffs only after completing a late Friday game semifinal comeback win that, by the season’s standards, the team didn’t even have time to fully digest.

Many of the eight seniors on the team were part of a program that went to the final four for four straight years.

“We’re sad but a lot of teams don’t make it this far,” senior midfielder Callie Rheaume said. “We should feel accomplished, but right now it hurts. In the end we’ll be happy about it.”

For much of Saturday’s game, the Papermakers met their match.

Skyline, a team that Camas knocked out of the state playoffs each of the last three seasons, moved the ball with little flaw in the attacking third, but through much of the first half the Camas defense held firm.

The Papermakers scored in the 37th minute to take a 1-0 lead. Rheaume chipped a ball over the Skyline back line and found Jazzy Paulson’s feet, who finished on the fast break.

“The whole line was up, everyone was on our side, the cross was open so I played it,” Rheaume said.

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One minute later, Skyline equalized when a corner kick was deflected out by Camas goalkeeper Isabella Gieszler right to Saskia Slater, who found the back of the net.

Slater scored again in the 57th minute, off a pass by Katelyn Reilly that threaded the Camas center defenders to give her a one-on-one with the goalie.

The Papermakers created legitimate chances in the game’s waning minutes, including a lunging poke by Jenna Efraimson that rolled toward an open goal before being kicked out by a backtracking defender.

But the Skyline defense held firm, dashing the Papermakers’ wishes to send Minder into retirement with six state championships.

Before the game, Minder said a state title would be the cherry on top of a 24-plus year coaching career at Camas, during which he built a culture in the boys and girls programs of sustained statewide success and amassed five state championships along the way.

“Have players work so hard that we can reach the final four four years in a row is so extraordinary,” Minder said. “There’s so much commitment, drive, support. I’m just grateful having had that experience.”

The players concurred.

After the game, he said it won’t be the result of the final game that he’ll remember, but instead the many groups that make up the Camas soccer family. Every member of the team he addressed on the field was a member of that family, too.

“Makes it more emotional,” Efraimson said. “Once he said that, everyone started bawling. Minder, he’s the greatest coach that’s ever been in Clark County. 25 years, I feel bad that we weren’t able to win for his last game, but he knows we tried our best.”

That’s why, he said, he can walk away satisfied with hanging his hat on this final season.

And for the players, a coach’s words may not have softened the feeling of defeat, but they brought together the team — err, “family” — one last time.

Goals (assists) — Jazzy Paulson (Callie Rheaume).
Goals (assists) — Saskia Slater (unassisted), Saskia Slater (Katelyn Reilly).
Halftime — 1-1.

Columbian Staff Writer