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Dec. 8, 2023

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Camas girls soccer team’s connection builds in 2-0 win over 4A GSHL rival Union

Ava Blackburn, Parker Mairs score second-half goals for Papermakers

By , Columbian staff writer
7 Photos
Camas’ Saige McCusker, right, and Union’s Ashley Elcock fight for possession of the ball on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at Union High School.
Camas’ Saige McCusker, right, and Union’s Ashley Elcock fight for possession of the ball on Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2023, at Union High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The persistence of Parker Mairs paid off.

The Camas girls soccer team was looking for a breakthrough moment 50 minutes into a scoreless match against Union on Tuesday when Mairs, a senior midfielder, took matters into her own hands.

First, she knifed through the heart of the Titans’ defense and fired a shot on goal, saved by Union goalkeeper Stephanie Leckwold. The loose ball dropped in front of Camas freshman Ava Blackburn, who took advantage of the open net for the Papermakers’ first goal.

A low line drive shot from Mairs found the back of the net in the 60th minute, and Camas posted a 2-0 win, its second straight to open 4A Greater St. Helens League play.

“(We had) a rough start a little bit, you could say, but we just stay together,” Mairs said. “We’re not even to our peak yet. I feel like we’re starting to connect more and we’re going to get better.”

Mairs wasn’t talking about Tuesday’s game itself, but rather, the Papermakers’ season to this point.

Their first game was a 5-0 defeat to Oregon 6A power Jesuit. They also battled Olympia and Lake Oswego (Ore.) to a pair of draws, along with wins against Oregon schools Grant and Ida B. Wells.

The Papermakers had their share of humbling moments. Just a few weeks later, they see signs of progress.

Tuesday’s result means the Papermakers (4-2-2, 2-0 4A GSHL) once again find themselves in the driver’s seat of a league they’ve owned in recent years by winning every 4A GSHL title since Union’s 2019 title run.

“We connected a lot better than we have today than we have in other games, and I think we were definitely prepared mentally for this game,” Camas junior Saige McCusker said. “We knew what we were coming into, so it feels nice to win.”

Camas’ connection is perhaps at its strongest in the midfield where Mairs, a Colorado Mesa University commit, McCusker, junior Abby Doyle and sophomore Paige Curl lead a standout group. Their experience is crucial for a relatively young team that graduated impact players at nearly every position, from the back line and goalkeeper to the forward spots.

“We all kind of see the field in a different perspective, so we’re able to see a couple plays ahead of the game. We know where we’re going to be,” McCusker said. “We’re really close off the field as well, so it allows us to connect really well on the field.”

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