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4A state soccer: No-quit Camas storms back to down Pasco 3-2 in semifinal PK shootout

No. 4 seed Papermakers advance to 4A state championship game against Mount Si

By Will Denner, Columbian staff writer
Published: May 24, 2024, 7:08pm
11 Photos
Camas' Markku Laukkanen (7) attempts to head the ball against multiple Pasco defenders during the Class 4A state boys soccer semifinals on Friday, May 24, 2024, at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup.
Camas' Markku Laukkanen (7) attempts to head the ball against multiple Pasco defenders during the Class 4A state boys soccer semifinals on Friday, May 24, 2024, at Sparks Stadium in Puyallup. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

PUYALLUP — Whether it was destiny or free will that propelled the Camas boys soccer team to its latest victory, who knows.

But know this about the Papermakers, now winners of 15 straight games — when faced with a deficit, they simply cannot be counted out.

By scoring two unanswered goals in the final 13 minutes of regulation, then putting together a perfect penalty kick shootout, Camas completed a 3-2 comeback over top seed Pasco in the Class 4A state semifinals, sending the No. 4 Papermakers to Saturday’s championship game against No. 10 Mount Si at Sparks Stadium.

“Until that final whistle blows, we have a chance. Every time,” Camas senior captain Luke Jones. “(Against) Kennedy Catholic, we came back. Mount Rainier, we came back. Here, we came back. We’ll do it again and again and again. Tomorrow, we’ll get it done. I believe that. This team runs on belief.”

The Papermakers prevailed 7-6 in the PK shootout as Jones, Luke Manandic, Cooper Schneider, Noah McLamb, Owen Tuttle, Mason Teeter and Renato Lopez-Aceval all converted their penalty kicks and Pasco’s seventh PK attempt, defended by Camas goalkeeper Jack Odone, clanked off the cross bar.

Odone, a senior, was subbed into the game late in the second overtime period for junior Will Taves, who made five saves in regulation and OT. While working on PKs at practice in recent weeks, Camas coaches recognized Odone’s knack for correctly guessing the side PK takers were aiming for. The Papermakers felt comfortable bringing in Odone fresh from the bench without playing a prior minute in the game.

“For me, it’s something just unbelievable,” Odone said. “I was on the bench the whole game and they brought me in for penalties. I was sitting there and never didn’t believe that we couldn’t do it, because this team, we’re something special.”

As the Papermakers (19-1-2) have learned during the long win streak, which began after a March 28 loss to rival Union, momentum is paramount.

For most of both halves, the Bulldogs were rolling with plenty of it on their side. Julio Andrade scored both of Pasco’s goals, including a perfectly-struck bicycle kick into the bottom right corner of the net, assisted by Vincente Garcia, to put the Bulldogs ahead 2-0 in the 41st minute.

The Papermakers continued to bang their heads against the wall to no avail against a stingy Bulldogs back line and midfield.

Then in the 67th minute, the Papermakers received a sliver of hope. Jones stepped up and converted a PK after the Papermakers drew a foul inside the penalty area, trimming the deficit to 2-1.

“Honestly, we came out slow,” Jones said. “They really took advantage of that, and then they got another one right after half. … Once we got that one, I was fortunate enough to get that penalty, yeah, it’s all momentum, seriously.”

Suddenly, a Camas attack that struggled to connect passes and set up shots on goal was playing with renewed purpose.

“You could see the shift immediately,” Camas coach Josh Stoller said, “to where we’re having the ball, we’re having more chances, we’re getting people forward.”

As the clock ticked down in stoppage time, Schneider took a corner kick drifting toward the far post where Tuttle, a 6-foot-5 defender, soared above Pasco’s defense to head the ball into the net to force overtime.

Although neither team was able to break a 2-2 tie in either of the five-minute golden-goal OT periods, the Papermakers felt they had the Bulldogs’ number and strode confidently into the PK shootout.

“It shows that we never give up,” Stoller said. “One of our mottos this year has been, ‘why not us?’ … We started our preseason and the boys have worked their butts off. We’ve worked and worked to get to this point, to where you can go down two goals in a semifinal game and work back from it — it’s huge.”

Camas will play for its first state title since 2011 on Saturday at 4 p.m. Within minutes of Friday’s game ending, Stoller estimated he had received some 30 messages from supporters and former players in the program, including some from that 2011 3A title-winning squad.

The result resonated with a lot of people. The Papermakers have had quality teams in years past, yet the stars haven’t aligned this far into the state playoffs. Stoller understands firsthand, having played in the program under longtime coach Roland Minder before graduating in 2015, and later returning to his alma mater as a coach in 2019.

“It’s amazing,” Stoller said. “If somebody would’ve said at the beginning of the year we’d be here, I never would’ve thought it. I knew we had the talent; I didn’t know (if) we could get it all to work together like we have this year. But it’s a team effort. My staff is absolutely amazing — (assistants) Joe and Josh Schneider behind me. We really work together well and we get these boys into a position where I don’t think they’ve ever been down.”

That’s the feeling the Papermakers have become familiar with, so it should come as no surprise they’re brimming with confidence going into the state championship.

“I believe that this team is meant to win this tournament. I really do,” Jones said. “I don’t know what it is … it’s meant to happen.”