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Columbia River boys soccer back in the 2A state semifinals

Rapids top East Valley (Yakima) 3-0, face Sehome next Friday in semis

By Meg Wochnick, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 20, 2023, 6:15pm

When you compare the 2022 Columbia River High boys soccer team and this season’s squad, which cliched another berth in the Class 2A state semifinals after Saturday’s 3-0 shutout of East Valley of Yakima, there’s little difference.

For starters, there’s similar player personnel, including reigning Washington Gatorade Player of the Year, Alex Harris. Then, there’s a-nearly identical goal differential. And finally, an undefeated record going into the state semifinals.

But one big difference players believe is on their side going next Friday’s state semifinal matchup against Sehome of Bellingham at Renton Memorial Stadium is this: Final 4 experience on their side. 

“We didn’t have anything to compare to,” Harris said. “A lot of the players on the team hadn’t been on a state run … (and) we have that hurt feeling and desire to never have that happen to us again.”

What Harris is talking about is the 2022 semifinal loss to Burlington-Edison in a shootout. River ended up placing third at state. 

Goalkeeper Cameron Harris, who made three saves Saturday, was in goal for that game, too. Nearly a year later, that result fuels him and his teammates every time he steps on the pitch, he said. 

“It’s revenge,” he said. “We want to do better. … “I always step on the field and hold myself accountable.”

Alex Harris, River soccer’s single-season and career scorer, notched a hat trick Saturday to help the Rapids (22-0) secure their fourth state semifinal berth since 2018. They’ll play Sehome, a 5-0 quarterfinal winner over Aberdeen, at 7 p.m. next Friday in Renton. 

But getting there wasn’t as easy as the final score appeared. The Red Devils (15-3-2) proved to be River’s toughest test yet. Like River, East Valley had only allowed six goals all season and entered Saturday posting a 2-0 shutout of Bellingham in its first-round win. 

“They have so many athletes,” Cameron Harris said. “They’re like no other team we’ve played. We knew their defense would be really good and really proved throughout the game that it was.”

So it was no surprise the first 40 minutes was a stout performance defensively on both sides. River had two chances from close range the final 5 minutes of the half, but a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Gonzalez (five saves) on a shot by Harris and an offside call on River negated a would-be goal. Both teams entered halftime knotted at zero. 

Two of Harris’ three goals came in the opening 10 minutes of the second half — both inside 10 yards. 

Once that first goal went in, Alex Harris said, that relaxed and energized the offense. His final goal came in the 74th minute on a penalty kick after teammate Tyler Brown was knocked down inside the box. 

“That first goal is the most important one,” he said. “Once we got that first goal, all our energy just spiked and carried us to get a few more after that.”

And that carried the Rapids (22-0) to next weekend, where they hope lofty goals expectations and goals are achieved. 

“Play a full 80 minutes,” said senior defender Colby Snellman, “and play our hearts out.”

BOYS SOCCER

2A state quarterfinal

At John O’Rourke Field

Columbia River 3, East Valley 0

Goals (assist) — Alex Harris, Harris, Harris (PK)

Goalkeeper saves — Cameron Harris, 3

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