REDMOND — The message was clear in the team-wide group text chain after it was announced that Ridgeview would host Eugene’s Willamette in its playoff opener: The Ravens were ready.
Why wouldn’t they be?
Ridgeview (10-5 overall) ended its regular season winning 10 of 11 games, scoring more than five goals in eight of the 11 to capture a share of the Intermountain Conference girls soccer title. The Ravens were at home and had bought into the philosophy of first-year coach Nic Sedor.
“There was never an ounce of doubt that we could go out there and play our game and beat them and hopefully move on,” said senior midfielder Averi Hartford.
Less than a minute into Tuesday night’s Class 5A first-round playoff match, No. 8 Ridgeview’s freshman midfielder Selena Gallacher put the Ravens in front of No. 9 Willamette (5-2-7) when she got behind the defense for a quick goal. All was going according to plan for the team that averaged nearly five goals a game during the season.
“At that point it was kind of a shock,” Hartford said. “I was like: ‘That didn’t just happen.’”
It did happen. Suddenly, Ridgeview was in control with 79 minutes to go.
But the team that prides itself on attacking opposing teams in waves was engulfed by a four-goal tidal wave in the second half — three coming off the foot of Willamette’s Briana Kubli — which the Ravens could not overcome, falling 5-1 to end their season.
“I’m very surprised this happened,” Sedor said. “I thought we matched up really well with them, and sometimes the game that you love can be so mean to you, and that’s what happens. I wanted this win for our nine seniors. We expected to go deep, we expected to win state. The team was ready for it and we met a solid, solid competitor tonight.”
The advantage Ridgeview quickly built was short lived. Before four minutes had ticked off the clock, Willamette forward Grace Thaut evened the score by rebounding her initial shot that was blocked by Ridgeview goalkeeper Jessica Sperber. The match remained tied 1-1 the rest of the first half.
“Early on, it was just a lot of passion on the field from the girls,” Hartford said.
Willamette scored four of its goals in a 20-minute span, and Ridgeview was never able to respond with a goal of its own.
Possessing the ball became more and more difficult for the Ravens in the later stages of the match. Without the ball, there was no way to dig themselves out of the hole.
“We got to a point where we just felt so under pressure that they wanted to just get (rid of the ball),” Sedor said. “When you get rid of it, you don’t have much offense.”
Sedor and Hartford noted that the Ravens failed to match the intensity of the Wolverines.
“After the second goal we weren’t at the level that we should have been playing at,” Hartford said. “To a degree, I think we put our heads down and weren’t able to get back under our feet. It took us too long to get the intensity high enough and (Willamette) kept taking that opportunity.”
Willamette advanced to play at No. 1 Crescent Valley on Saturday in a quarterfinal match.
— Reporter: 541-383-0307, firstname.lastname@example.org