Payton Lawson has waited longer than most to get a chance to play for Hockinson girls soccer. In her first high school game in fall 2019, the then-sophomore tore her ACL. She missed the entirety of Hockinson’s illustrious 2019 season. The Hawks made program history by appearing in their first state championship game, where they lost 1-0 to Columbia River.
On Saturday, Hockinson returned the favor with a 1-0 win over the defending 2A State champions at Columbia River High School. Lawson finally got to play her part.
“Watching from the sideline last year hurt,” Lawson said. “It fueled my fire every game: losing to (River) three times and watching, knowing I could make a difference.”
While Lawson didn’t appear in the boxscore — senior Kati Waggoner scored the game’s only goal — it’s clear the impact the junior has on the Hawks’ attack. She can control the ball, distribute and take on defenders when necessary.
“She is a huge help to this team,” Waggoner said of her teammate. “I’m so happy we get to play with her this year.”
Lawson started her high school career in a development academy before moving to Hockinson, where she anticipated a strong sophomore year with the Hawks. When she played only minutes prior to her injury, it was devastating, she said. But she vowed to rehab and be back to full strength by the fall. We all know what happened with the fall season.
Finally, this February she retook the field in Hockinson’s sky blue and white uniforms. With her help, the Hawks are 4-0 in the 2A Greater St. Helens League and after Saturday, the favorite to win the league.
“It was frustrating,” Lawson said of the delay. “I’ve been waiting a year and a half now since that game. But it gave me more time. The knee is stronger than it was before, so it was good and bad.”
The performance from Hockinson to topple a perennial league favorite in River was nothing short of spectacular. The Hawks controlled the pace of the game, launching attacks from myriad angles into the Columbia River defense. Columbia River’s sophomore goalkeeper Alia Rust made five saves, including an early diving stop and a fingertip block that deflected the ball into the crossbar. Senior Luci Ianello again anchored the back for River.
When Columbia River had its moments, the Hawks’ defense was up to the challenge. Hockinson goalie Amanda Jeschke made six saves, including corralling a shot in the dying seconds to preserve the victory.
“We’re not really much a defensive team,” said first-year coach George Moya, who prefers to be in attack mode. “I am really happy with the defensive performance tonight.”
In the end, Waggoner’s 69th-minute goal, a sublime bending ball that nestled softly into the far-side netting from a corner kick, was all the Hawks needed.
“I’ve been working on my curlers trying to get the ball to bend in, but I definitely wasn’t expecting that,” an ecstatic Waggoner said.
The Hawks continue their league season with another stiff foe, Ridgefield, at home on Thursday. Columbia River looks to rebound Tuesday at Hudson’s Bay on Tuesday.
HOCKINSON 1, COLUMBIA RIVER 0
Goalkeeper saves — Alia Rust 5.
Goals (assists) — Kati Waggoner (unassisted); Goalkeeper saves — Amanda Jeschke 6.
Halftime — 0-0.