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News / Sports / Prep Sports

4A/3A boys soccer: Camas boys beat Union 3-2 to clinch state playoff berth

Papermakers scored all three goals in second half for 12th straight win.

By Tim Martinez, Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
Published: May 9, 2024, 10:23pm
2 Photos
The Camas boys soccer team gathers on the field after beating Union 3-2 in 4A bi-district playoff match at Fishback Stadium in Washougal on Thursday, May 8, 2024.
The Camas boys soccer team gathers on the field after beating Union 3-2 in 4A bi-district playoff match at Fishback Stadium in Washougal on Thursday, May 8, 2024. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

WASHOUGAL — During its second-half surge to the season, the Camas boys soccer team won its final nine regular-season games, including a 2-1 win over rival Union on April 29.

And yet, because of a league tiebreaker, the Papermakers found themselves on the loser-out half of the bi-district tournament.

So the Papermakers did the only thing they could — they kept on winning.

“Every game, it’s ‘Why not us? Why not us?’ ” senior defender Shiven Friedeman said. “What’s stopping us from beating that team, then beating the next and beating the next.”

That mindset led Camas to loser-out wins over Graham-Kapowsin and Kennedy Catholic and into a rematch against the rival Titans on Thursday night.

It propelled them again Thursday when after steady pressure from Camas could only produce a scoreless first half, the Papermakers broke through with three-second half goals. They would need all three to fend off Union for a 3-2 win, clinching a berth to the 4A state playoffs.

“They’re a good team,” senior midfielder Luke Jones said of Union. “They come out hard, especially when they’re down. We just had to find (a way) to keep it going for 40 minutes and close out the game.”

The first Camas goal came quickly in the second half. Markku Laukkanen played the ball to Luke Manandic. Manandic fed it back to Laukkanen, who slipped the ball past the Union goalkeeper Jesus Gutierrez to put Camas up 1-0 in the 43rd minute.

But Union countered quickly, tying the match 1-1 about a minute later.

“You never know when (Union) can counter,” Camas coach Josh Stoller said. “Like when we scored our first goal, they turned around and scored in a couple of minutes. When you’re playing in a match with two top teams in the state, you never know. It could be 30 seconds later and that team is coming right back at you. It’s cool to see our boys can handle the pressure and get the job done.”

Camas’ depth showed up in the 60th minute, when one freshman, David Daley, pushed the ball up the right side to take a shot that was not corralled by Gutierrez. Another Camas freshman, Pax Epstein, was there to punch in the rebound for a 2-1 lead.

Four minutes later, more pressure from Camas drew a foul that led to a free kick from Manandic across the face of the goal that Owen Tuttle punched for a 3-1 lead.

“In that moment, communication was key,” Tuttle said. “So that’s what we did. We stuck together and stayed focused.”

Stoller added: “Both of the goals came from buildup from two players who did even start the game. So our bench came in the field and helped us out tremendously.”

Union did not quit, bringing repeated pressure in the closing minutes. But Papermaker keep Will Taves was up to the challenge, turning away Titan shots. One Union shot even bounced off the far post.

The Titans did draw to within 3-2 on a goal by Liam Wendel in the 78th minute. But Camas’ defense held on and ran out the clock to notch their 12th win in a row.

“Proud of the boys,” Jones said. “It takes all of us. There’s not one guy on this team who we couldn’t be here without.”

As Camas will wait until Sunday to find out who it will face in the first round of state, Union gets a second chance at a state berth on Saturday when the Titans face Tahoma at 1 p.m. at Harry Lang Stadium in Lakewood.