The championship capped a decorated career for Buckley and a senior class that started their careers as freshmen on River’s 2019 first-place team.
Going into her senior season, Buckley had conversations with River head coach Filly Afenegus about the sizable impact she needed to have on this Rapids team.
“I think I just knew I needed to help other people, I knew I needed to take on a bigger role, so that’s what I was just focusing on,” Buckley said. “Maybe it wasn’t scoring the most goals, but just helping everyone.”
River won the 2A Greater St. Helens League title with a 12-2-1 record in the regular season, finished runner-up in the District 4 tournament before running through the Class 2A state tournament with wins against Bellingham, West Valley (Spokane), Tumwater and Sehome.
In the end, Buckley did score the most goals, though of the Rapids’ four state playoff games, all seven goals were put through by a different player: Ivy Henderson, Lillian Mickel, Raya Janson, Paige Johnson, Avah Eslinger, Peyton Dukes and lastly, Buckley.
On the biggest stage, it wasn’t a coincidence Buckley came through in the clutch with the shot of the season.
With less than 10 minutes left in the state championship game, senior Logann Dukes lofted in a long pass to the edge of Sehome’s penalty area, where Buckley gained possession on a couple high bounces of the ball, maneuvered through the Mariners defense with a few dribbles and slotted a shot into the top of the net.
After the game, Afenegus remarked that Buckley “is the coolest, calmest player I think I’ve ever coached.”
“It just kind of summarized who she is,” the head coach said of the goal. “She’s just so cool, calm and collected in all pressure situations.”
Buckley said that demeanor is reflective of her personality away from soccer, but on the pitch, she credits Afenegus with keeping the team grounded through the ups and downs.
“Filly has helped with this too … when we score a goal, when we win a game, you can’t get too high. When you get scored on, when you lose a game, you can’t get too low,” Buckley said. “Just kind of staying even and not getting too nervous under pressure situations.”
Buckley leaves the program with a long list of accomplishments that includes three state semifinal appearances in four years (no postseason events were held in 2020), two state championships and a third-place finish in 2021.
At the end of the high school season, Buckley went right into her club season with Northwest Elite FC. Also this month, she plans to commit to Seattle Pacific, a Division II women’s soccer program in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
Buckley will still be connected to River as well. Her younger sister is set to join the Rapids’ program next year, continuing a legacy that the elder Buckley stepped into her freshman year in 2019.
“As a freshman I was more timid, more quiet, I think it’s expected,” Buckley said. “Over the years, this great environment helped me open up, be a better person, both on the field and off the field. It’s a great program, one I’m glad my sister is coming to next year.”
The rest of the All-Region girls soccer team
Keely Wieczorek, Camas
The senior goalkeeper and Colorado Mesa University signee came up clutch in big moments, allowing just four goals with 58 saves.
Madeline Johnson, Camas
The senior defender shared 4A GSHL player of the year honors with Wieczorek and helped set the tone for a defense that gave up just eight goals and earned 15 shutouts on the season.
Logann Dukes, Columbia River
A two-time 2A GSHL defensive MVP, the senior defender anchored a River back line that peaked late in the season by allowing only two goals in the 2A state playoffs with a clean sheet in the championship game.
Claire Jones, Ridgefield
The senior Oregon State signee moved to the Spudders’ back line from the midfield this season to fill in for injured teammate (and sister) Cameron Jones. She tallied 13 goals, four assists and led Ridgefield to a 2A state quarterfinal appearance.
Shaela Bradley, La Center
With 38 goals and 18 assists, the junior midfielder, a Rutgers commit, led the Wildcats to a Trico League title and earned league POY honors for a second consecutive season.
Anna Mooney, Seton Catholic
After transferring from Camas, the senior Trico League offensive POY made an immediate impact with the Cougars, who reached the 1A state playoffs for the first time since 2015.
Adrianne Agbayani, Evergreen
The junior scored goals in bunches and was voted as the 3A GSHL POY. Highlights from the season included hat tricks against Fort Vancouver and Heritage.
Bella Burns, Camas
The senior forward was the team’s top point holder with eight assists and 13 goals, including a goal in the 4A state playoffs as the Papermakers reached the quarterfinals.
Delaney DeGrande, Skyview
The Storm’s offense ran through the senior captain, who produced a team-high 11 assists with three goals for a squad that finished second in the 4A GSHL behind Camas.
Kathryn Chapin, R.A. Long
The junior forward accounted for 31 of the team’s 49 goals with 25 goals and six assists. Chapin was named 2A GSHL offensive MVP and the Lumberjills reached the 2A state playoffs.
Avery Schilling, Union
The junior forward and captain tallied 11 goals and six assists, both team highs for the Titans.
Josie Brandenburg, Kalama
Selected as the 2B Central League MVP, the junior helped the Chinooks to a district title and third-place finish at the 2B state tournament.