TACOMA — Peyton Dukes and the Columbia River girls soccer team didn’t feel pressure to perform Saturday.
That allowed the Rapids to play free in their final game of the season and get the result they wanted.
Dukes scored both of River’s goals via free kicks of more than 30 yards, including the go-ahead goal in the 67th minute, and the Rapids rallied to defeat East Valley of Yakima 2-1 in the Class 2A girls soccer state third-place match.
“I didn’t feel a lot of pressure, so I just took my time, decompressed and took the shots,” Dukes said. “Thanks to (assistant coaches) Matt (Newman) and Ryan (Callahan) for helping me throughout the season and taking the time to practice with me.”
Much like Friday’s 1-0 loss to Ridgefield, River faced a first-half deficit when East Valley’s Ariana Lopez slotted a goal into the top left corner to give the Red Devils a 1-0 lead.
Yet the unfazed Rapids continued to chip away at East Valley’s defense and find scoring opportunities. River earned a foul with under two minutes left in the first half, setting up a free kick taken by Dukes from approximately 30 yards.
Her shot tucked underneath the cross bar in the top left corner to send River to halftime with a 1-1 tie.
Still tied at the 67-minute mark, River’s Paige Johnson drew a foul. From distance, Dukes was deadly again. A 35-yard free kick on line bounced off the fingertips of East Valley’s goalkeeper and into the net for the go-ahead goal.
“It just brought our energy up so much. We just felt like we’re in this,” said senior center back Lillian Mickel. “We did not let their first goal get to our heads and bring us down. … That was a really big challenge, because yesterday obviously we were down a goal. We were able today to fix our mindset. Even if we were down first, we were able to still be in the game.”
River made its seventh consecutive trip to the state final four this season. In the last three years, the Rapids have claimed a pair of third-place finishes, with last year’s state championship sandwiched in between.
For outgoing seniors like Mickel, those results make them proud, but their strongest memories come from all the time they spent together off the field.
“I’ll just remember all of our bus trips, (going to) Olive Garden and getting food, just being with my teammates,” Mickel said. “Not necessarily all the games, they’re hard to remember, but I’ll forever hold on to all the memories I’ve had. It’s been an amazing four years.”
With a bevy of young players and a strong junior class returning, River’s future appears to be bright, too.
“I’m so excited,” Dukes said, “because all of our (underclassmen) will be able to continue our legacy. It will be super fun.”