Tuesday night’s showdown of 2A Greater St. Helens League girls soccer leaders was every bit as intense as one would expect.
“It was really competitive,” River midfielder Andie Buckley said. “We knew from the start that Ridgefield was going to come out like really hard. So we knew we had to match their intensity and play even harder.”
In the end, River did Ridgefield one better as Buckley and Anna Iniquez scored goals, leading the Rapids to a 2-1 victory.
The victory River tied with Hockinson atop the 2A GSHL at 7-2. Ridgefield fell back to 6-3.
After a scoreless first half, the match had all the markings of one that might be decided by penalty kicks. Then the game turned on a penalty kick.
After Buckley was fouled in the box – breaking a shoelace in the process – the junior converted the penalty kick for a 1-0 lead in the 45th minute.
“We practice them every practice,” Buckley said of PKs. “After every practice, we go out and practice PKs. We take them over and over. We just practice putting them down and hitting where we want to hit them.”
But that would not be enough as the Spudders kept the pressure on before drawing even at 1-1 on a goal by Tori Lasch in the 56th minute.
But in the 66th minute, another Ridgefield foul set up a free kick by Logann Dukes that bounced in front of the Spudder goal before Iniguez punched it in for a 2-1 lead that the Rapids made stand up.
“I think it just comes down to they have a strong trust in each other,” River coach Filomon Afenegus said. “They’ve been in wars before and they came through it good. And I think that stems from the team chemistry we have. They not only play for themselves, they play for each other, which I think is their greatest source of strength.”
Having split two games with Hockinson already, River will need some help – perhaps from Ridgefield when the Spudders play Hockinson on Oct. 23 – to claim the league title outright. But Afenegus is more focused on the teams left on River’s schedule.
“The 2A GSHL is the toughest league in the state, easy,” he said. “So every single game, you have to bring it. … (Ridgefield), Hockinson, R.A. Long, Washougal. I mean we’re going to run into tough teams down the road.”