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Nov. 26, 2021

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Martinez: Payton Lawson forced to watch another Hockinson run at state soccer title

High school sports

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published:
2 Photos
Hockinson’s Payton Lawson sprints toward the ball in the 2A Southwest District Championship on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at District Stadium in Battle Ground. Hockinson won 2-0 to complete a perfect 11-0 season.
Hockinson’s Payton Lawson sprints toward the ball in the 2A Southwest District Championship on Saturday, March 20, 2021, at District Stadium in Battle Ground. Hockinson won 2-0 to complete a perfect 11-0 season. (Joshua Hart/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Hockinson girls soccer team is playing in the state final four again this weekend, and Payton Lawson will be watching.

Again.

Two years ago, when the Hawks advanced to the 2A state championship, Lawson was on the sideline, having suffered a season-ending knee injury in the season opener of her sophomore season.

She returned for her junior year, which was a COVID condensed season in February and March in which the Hawks went undefeated and unscored upon. Lawson was selected the 2A Greater St. Helens League offensive MVP, and The Columbian’s All-Region player of the year.

After helping the Hawks win the 2A district title, Lawson’s sights were on her senior season at Hockinson.

But while playing in a tournament with her club team in June, Lawson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her other knee. And she knew it right away.

“It was the typical ‘pop,’ totally non-contact, just cutting type of thing,” Lawson said. “So I felt it before I knew for sure that I had torn it.”

Just like that, her senior season at Hockinson was lost. And the injury also ended her days of playing competitive soccer that started when she was five.

“My goal has always been to play in college,” Lawson said. “And I was talking with schools, and this past summer was going to be a big summer for me. I was hoping to commit somewhere so I could sign in the fall. Then after tearing my ACL again, it kind of just put things in perspective. It’s a nine-month recovery, so I would not get to actually play again until May of next year. And it was kind of at the point where I knew that I might not be able to get to a type of college that I would want to for my academics. I realized that academics are more important, and I wanted to go to school where I could study what I wanted to study, and not just for soccer.”

A 4.0 student at Hockinson, Lawson wants to study pre-med in college, preferably at the University of Washington, with the goal of becoming a doctor.

“So it worked out in a weird way,” she said. “Obviously, my whole life I’ve played soccer and I was looking to play at college. But you’ve just got to adapt and change. Things happen.”

Lawson said that is exactly what her Hockinson teammates have done on the pitch this fall.

“They’ve definitely done a great job of adapting to all the different things that have come their way,” Lawson said. “A lot of people have known that they need to step up this year. They have and it’s showing now they’re in the final four. Pretty crazy.”

What has impressed Lawson the most about the Hawks have been their grit and tenacity when facing adversity. And she credits that to the leadership of two seniors, goalkeeper Amanda Jeschke and midfielder Ellie Ritter.

“Amanda Jeschke was our captain this year, and she broke her pinkie,” Lawson said. “She’s done a lot and she’s still been there for the team. But Ellie has really had to step up on the field and get her teammates together, especially in the last few games, and really push everyone.”

These days, Lawson is working on pushing herself in more ways than one.

Three months into her rehab from surgery in August, she has worked her way up to running for about 10 minutes at a time. And she still enjoys going to the gym to workout doing whatever her knee allows.

But it’s been a struggle to fill the void that soccer left in her life.

“I would have to drive to Beaverton four times a week for (club) soccer,” Lawson said. “Like my whole night was always taken up by soccer. It’s kind of been an identity thing for me. Soccer has been my life for so long, it’s kind how I identified myself. But now I’ve had to switch that up and realize there is more to me than soccer. There are other things I can do as well.”

This weekend, Lawson will be cheering on the Hawks as they pursue a state championship.

“It’s been very hard,” she said of watching from the sidelines. “I mean, it’s the second time. It’s about as hard as the first time. But it’s been nice to sit in the student section and cheer them on, because I know they’ve been working really hard. I just wish I could be out there to help them.”

And a Hockinson triumph this weekend would sweeten a bitter end to Lawson’s soccer playing days.

“I’m close with all the girls, so I’ll feel a little like I’m a part of it,” Lawson said. “But it’s all their success. So I mean I’m just going to happy for them.”

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