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News / Sports / Prep Sports

Ridgefield’s season ends in 2A boys soccer district pigtail game

Aberdeen scores two unanswered goals in last 5 minutes to grab 2-1 win

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 2, 2024, 10:29pm
9 Photos
Ridgefield players break from a huddle on the field prior to the start of the second half of the Class 2A District 4 boys soccer pigtail game against Aberdeen on Thursday, May 2, 2024, at Ridgefield High School.
Ridgefield players break from a huddle on the field prior to the start of the second half of the Class 2A District 4 boys soccer pigtail game against Aberdeen on Thursday, May 2, 2024, at Ridgefield High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

RIDGEFIELD — For a few moments in Ridgefield’s post-game huddle Thursday, players and coaches stood speechless, searching for the right words to sum up a season-ending defeat.

This one stung more than most.

The Spudders were less than 20 minutes away from advancing to the Class 2A District 4 boys soccer quarterfinals on Thursday when junior Joey Taylor converted a penalty kick against Aberdeen to break a scoreless tie.

Yet the visiting Bobcats, the No. 4 seed from the 2A Evergreen Conference, had the final say in a 2-1 win with two goals in the final few minutes.

Aberdeen’s Juan Serrano scored the game-winner late in stoppage time, which followed the equalizer in the 78th minute when Evan Cone scored on a heel assist from Elmer Torres. Ridgefield had little time left to counter before the final whistle blew.

“After their (first) goal, the concern was they had the momentum and we were struggling mentally to be solid,” Ridgefield coach Brian Newman said. “I feel sorry for the seniors. It’s really tough and they don’t deserve that. But, they’ll learn from this and grow from this.”

Ridgefield (9-8) and Aberdeen (8-8) have a long history in the district playoffs — the game was their seventh meeting in the last 10 years — and several have come down to the wire. So after more than 60 scoreless minutes, Thursday was setting up for a similar finish.

The Spudders were in the midst of an attack when senior Connor Lopez sent a pass forward to Taylor, who took a shot on goal saved by Aberdeen goalkeeper Jazir Arenal. In the scramble for the ball, Ridgefield senior Anikait Antal collided with Arenal and drew a foul, setting up Taylor’s successful penalty kick in the 62nd minute.

But the final stages of the game followed a trend similar to what the Spudders experienced during an up and down regular season, according to Newman, that saw them finish fifth in the 2A Greater St. Helens League.

“We’ve been playing one notch below our competition all season, and we’re trying to figure out how to break that. That’s been our struggle,” Newman said. “Yeah, the guys were gassed, and that was a good team, but we just haven’t been able to secure that. All year we’ve been chasing one point at a time. We were one point from being in fourth place, one game away from being in third place. It’s just been a struggle all year.”

Although Ridgefield had its sights set on a longer stay in the postseason, the finish still marked an improvement from 2023 when the Spudders missed the district playoffs for the first time in 15 years under Newman. Next spring, the goal is to take another step toward recapturing its status as one of the top 2A teams in District 4.

“They’re trying to figure out how we break this pattern that we’ve been in all year,” Newman said of the players set to return. “We’ve improved from last year, but it wasn’t enough for the amount of work they’ve put into this.”

Aberdeen advances to face 2A GSHL champion Columbia River on Saturday. The quarterfinal game is a rematch of last year’s district championship game, which the Rapids won 3-0 on their run to capturing the 2A state championship.

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