Reggie Griffith and the Columbia River soccer team weren’t going to end this season without a postseason thrill.
While the short campaign this spring won’t include a state tournament, River and Ridgefield each brought playoff intensity to Tuesday’s district tournament game at Columbia River High.
Griffith scored both River goals in a 2-1 win, including the game-winner with three minutes remaining.
That puts River (7-1) into a district semifinal match at Evergreen Conference champion Tumwater on Thursday. The winner will face Hockinson or Black Hills in the championship match Saturday.
River has reached each of the last four 2A final fours, winning state championships in 2016 and 2019. River has forged many shining postseason moments in that time. That’s why Griffith and her teammates are approaching the district playoffs like a state tournament.
“(Coach Filomon Afenegus) was talking at half, ‘we love these games, when it’s really close,’ ” Griffith said. “I know, it’s such a short season. It did feel a little off, especially as a senior when I started to realize this is my last week. But this game definitely felt like a playoff game.”
Griffith’s game-winner came after Ridgefield (7-3) had turned aside increasing pressure throughout the second half.
Grace Russell received a cross, which she flicked into Griffith’s path 10 yards in front of the goal. The senior midfielder didn’t blink.
“I saw the ball come out and I was like ‘don’t overhit this,’ ” Griffith said. “Last year we played Ridgefield and I overhit one. I was so mad at myself. I was like ‘this is it. This is my redemption right here.’ ”
Griffith also had the game’s opening goal after just three minutes, scoring from point-blank range on a cross from Russell.
But Ridgefield struck back five minutes later. Claire Jones curved a free kick from 20 yards inside the left goalpost.
Ridgefield nearly took the lead later in the first half. But sophomore goalkeeper Alia Rust made a point-blank save, one of her six on the night.
River controlled much of the possession in the second half, gradually raising the pressure until Griffith broke the tie.
“We all wanted this so bad,” she said. “Our team is like a family. I knew we were going to go hard and get that goal.”
Ridgefield has one more match in the tournament, a consolation clash against Washougal on Thursday.
HOCKINSON 3, WASHOUGAL 0 – Grace Abbott scored two goals to lift the Hawks into the district semifinals. Hockinson (9-0) will face Black Hills on Thursday.
Abbott scored her team’s opening goal, then added an insurance goal in the second half. Payton Lawson also scored in the first half. Katie Waggoner had two assists.