Last year’s semifinal loss has stuck with Michaela Gorman — and her Summit teammates — throughout this season. It has been the Storm junior’s motivation during Summit’s run to an Intermountain Conference championship and Tuesday’s Class 5A girls soccer state semifinal match against Crescent Valley.
“We stopped short last year, and that was one of the worst feelings you could ever feel,” Gorman explained. “This year, we didn’t want to feel that feeling again. Even though we’re a completely different team, part of us was thinking about last year and how we could fix that and move on to finals.”
Despite playing against a Raiders team which heading into the semifinals had allowed the fewest goals in 5A this season, the No. 2-seeded Storm displayed sheer dominance Tuesday. And a year after falling just shy of the state final, Summit redeemed itself by ousting No. 3 Crescent Valley 2-0 to advance to the program’s sixth state championship game since 2010.
The Storm advanced to play in the championship final Saturday at Hillsboro Stadium, where they will take on No. 1 North Eugene, a 2-1 winner over No. 4 Sandy in Tuesday’s other semifinal.
“It’s unbelievable,” gushed Gorman. “I can’t even express how happy I am right now.”
On the same field and with the same playoff seeding as last year, the Storm were overpowering against the Raiders from Corvallis. Heading into the semifinal, Crescent Valley, champion of the Mid-Willamette Conference, had allowed just four goals all season, and no more than one in a single game. Yet Summit (15-2 overall) was not intimidated, constantly challenging the Raiders’ defense — beginning with the opening kickoff.
Within the first 10 seconds Summit earned a corner kick, but the Storm could not cash in as Maggi McElrath’s header sailed high. In the third minute, Gabbie Brocker’s shot was saved, and two minutes later a blast by Caroline Schutz missed just left of the mark. The Storm continued to press, and in the 20th minute, they finally struck.
Molly Day intercepted a short goal kick and raced the other way with a Crescent Valley defender on her right hip for 15 yards. From the left side of the box, though, Day punched a shot with the outside of her right foot that sent the ball across the face of Crescent Valley goalkeeper Peyton Dale and into the right side of the goal for a 1-0 Storm lead.
Summit kept its foot on the accelerator. And in the 26th minute, the Storm extended their lead to 2-0 as Gorman sprinted into the box to head in a score off a Haley Tobiason corner kick. Summit took its two-goal lead into halftime, outshooting Crescent Valley 17-1 in the opening 40 minutes, including a 10-0 advantage in shots on goal.
“I think any team is beatable, no matter what their stats are,” Gorman said. “It’s all about the heart of the team that wants to win. Any team is breakable no matter what their stats are. We had the right intentions, and we really challenged them.”
The Raiders (14-1-1) threatened early in the second half, as Nicole Moore sent a laser shot toward the right side of the goal, but Summit keeper Capra Williams made a diving stop. Williams made another save in the 60th minute, Crescent Valley’s last real scoring opportunity, as the Storm recorded their seventh straight shutout and 13th overall on the season.
“We’ve been on that momentum and that path,” said Summit coach Jamie Brock. “We’ve had a couple down games. But I think they clearly got motivated. They knew what they were expected to do this game, and (Crescent Valley) is clearly a respectable team. … There was definitely some heart being played out there today. Girls were tired, and it’s one of those games where it’s like, ‘Don’t give up.’ And they didn’t; they put it all together.”
Before Tuesday’s match, Crescent Valley led all of 5A with 73 goals scored, averaging nearly five per game. But the Raiders were blanked for the first time since last season’s semifinals, when they lost 2-0 to eventual champion La Salle.
Now it will be Summit looking to repeat history, as it prepares to take on No. 1 North Eugene on Saturday. It will be the Storm’s sixth appearance in the state final, and they look to remain undefeated in championship games.
“From where we were at the beginning of the season to where we are now,” said Brock, now in her 13th season at the Summit helm, “as a whole, I’ve not seen a group progress like this and just peak like this.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, email@example.com