The numbers speak for themselves: 18 playoff appearances, 12 final fours, four state titles. The past decade of high school girls soccer has been illustrious for Camas and Columbia River.
Both are once again coming off semifinal bids — Camas finished second, River third in state last season. It’s a familiar place to be for a pair of programs that have managed to stay among the state’s elite even with the ever-evolving rosters in high school sports.
Columbia River won state titles in 2016, 2012 and 2009. They’ve missed the playoffs just once in the past decade and have six final four appearances. Camas nearly mirrors that with nine playoff berths in 10 years, six final fours and a 2016 title.
So how have they done it? How have the programs maintained such consistency?
“Invest in culture,” said eighth-year Chieftain coach Filly Afenegus. “A strong foundation is imperative.”
The Papermakers, too, have their own culture. It’s one of high expectations.
“I don’t think all programs have that ability to hold their student-athletes to that high of a standard,” said Keri Tomasetti, who steps in as head coach this season after serving as an assistant under Roland Minder for 13 years. “We do and can because of our student-athletes and our parents, who are tremendous.”
Culture is an attractive lure to the elite soccer players, many of which opt for club teams rather than high school ball. That’s not an issue at River and Camas, who routinely have top-end players donning school colors.