RIDGEFIELD — There will be a few familiar faces in the Class 2A girls soccer final four, including the rising Ridgefield Spudders.
And in a return to the stage Ridgefield last played on in 2019, the Spudders will get a rematch against Hockinson, the very team that defeated them two years ago.
No. 3 seed Ridgefield earned a trip to the final four by way of a 2-0 win against No. 6 West Valley of Spokane on Saturday afternoon. Meanwhile, No. 7 Hockinson picked up a 1-0 road win over Burlington-Edison, setting up a Clark County showdown semifinal. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m. on Friday at Shoreline Stadium in Shorecrest.
“It’s really exciting, I mean, we’ve all worked really, really hard. This was ultimately our end goal,” senior Paytn Barnette said. “We had some ups and downs and we persevered.”
Ridgefield’s play Saturday was a continuation of the style it has executed of late, and the end result was exactly the same.
Just like their first-round playoff game Wednesday against Enumclaw, also a 2-0 win, Ridgefield struck first on a corner kick to take a quick 1-0 lead 10 minutes into the first half.
This time, Ellie Petersen was on the receiving end of a Claire Jones corner kick, which Petersen ran toward and timed perfectly with a header past West Valley into the net. Jones added the Ridgefield’s second score from a Barnette pass in the 49th minute, a 25-yard strike that tucked under the cross bar.
“Especially the last couple weeks, we’ve just been grinding,” Petersen said. “It’s just about the attitude. We’ve just come out and really stepped it up.”
Ridgefield, which registered 24 shots for the game, was close to adding on to its lead on several occasions later in the second half, including a Barnette shot that hit off the crossbar, and a Kelli Krusl shot saved by West Valley’s Aubrey Lobdell, also deflected off the crossbar.
Ultimately, the Spudders were fine with a two-goal advantage, as the defense preserved a fifth straight shutout, while limiting West Valley to just five shots. Goalkeeper Josie Rinta collected four saves for Ridgefield.
The ups and downs Barnette alluded to came during a regular season stretch when Ridgefield lost three of four games against the likes of Hockinson, Washougal and Columbia River. Since the Oct. loss to River, the Spudders have now won 10 straight including two wins against Hockinson, ahead of their fourth meeting with the Hawks next week.
“We got really frustrated,” Barnette said. “But it was kind of a mentality switch. We just decided to start working together. I think some of our big wins just helped us realize, we are good enough, we can do this if we work together. We really just started supporting each other and loving the game again.”
“I think at a certain point in those downs, we just realized we are a good team and we have to step it and do better, because we can reach that goal,” Petersen added.
The Spudders have now reached that goal, but they will have some extra motivation to improve on their third-place finish two years ago. Barnette, a sophomore on the 2019 team, thought back Saturday on the experience of playing in the final four, and the different level of intensity it demands.
“It’s just like this adrenaline rush,” Barnette said. “At the end of the day, you get super nervous, but at the same time once you start playing, it’s like this whole other feeling. You know you’re playing the best of the best, and it almost pushes you to go harder, go faster. It’s just exciting knowing when you work as a team, you are good enough to be here.”