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State soccer: River recovers to reach quarterfinals

Skyview’s season comes to an end; Evergreen advances

VANCOUVER — The Columbia River Chieftains trailed early. They were tied late.

Anything could have happened in their Class 2A state soccer playoff match Wednesday night.

“It was scary,” acknowledged Jake Connop. “But we knew the only team that was going to beat us was ourselves. We just had to keep grinding.”

“It was just a matter of maintaining our composure,” added older brother Ryan Connop.

Ryan Connop, shown here battling two Clarkston players, scored the game-winning goal Wednesday night, helping Columbia River reach the Class 2A state quarterfinals. The Chieftains beat Clarkston 3-2. Photo by Mike Schultz
Ryan Connop, shown here battling two Clarkston players, scored the game-winning goal Wednesday night, helping Columbia River reach the Class 2A state quarterfinals. The Chieftains beat Clarkston 3-2. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Chieftains knew they could bounce back. They had so many scoring opportunities in this one, they figured they would catch a break or two. They knew they had it in them to advance in this playoff run.

“It was going to come sometime,” Ryan Connop said.

It happened in the final 10 minutes of the match. Ryan Connop scored on a header off a corner kick from freshman Maksim Yurichko, giving the Chieftains the lead for good. Columbia River beat Clarkston 3-2 to reach the state quarterfinals.

It was the first of two state playoff matches Wednesday night at Kiggins Bowl. Puyallup scored a 4-1 victory over Skyview in a Class 4A contest, ending the Storm’s season.

Columbia River’s Jacob Warthen seems to defy gravity as he goes after the ball against Clarkston in a Class 2A state soccer playoff match Wednesday at Kiggins Bowl. Photo by Mike Schultz
Columbia River’s Jacob Warthen seems to defy gravity as he goes after the ball against Clarkston in a Class 2A state soccer playoff match Wednesday at Kiggins Bowl. Photo by Mike Schultz

On the other side of town, Evergreen advanced to the Class 3A state quarterfinals, scoring three second-half goals for a 3-0 victory over Shorecrest at McKenzie Stadium.

Columbia River improved to 20-0 this season and got a reality check that state playoff soccer is a different game.

Goalkeeper Reilly Burke was forced into making an amazing save in the first minute of the match. A few minutes later, Clarkston had the lead.

Ryan Connop of Columbia River scored the game-winner with this header off a corner kick from Maksim Yurichko. The Chieftains will take on Archbishop Murphy in the 2A quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins Bowl. Photo by Mike Schultz
Ryan Connop of Columbia River scored the game-winner with this header off a corner kick from Maksim Yurichko. The Chieftains will take on Archbishop Murphy in the 2A quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Saturday at Kiggins Bowl. Photo by Mike Schultz

The Chieftains took those punches, though. Their confidence was not shaken. In fact, nearly all of the scoring chances the rest of the half were led by Columbia River. The Chieftains would get the equalizer late in the half on a penalty kick by Jack Kolosvary.

“I wasn’t concerned because we were playing well,” Columbia River coach Filomon Afenegus said. “Knowing we had so many seniors out on the field, been there, done that. I felt very comfortable.”

Jake Connop gave River a 2-1 advantage in the second half, only to have Clarkston tie the match in the 62nd minute.

It was the first time all season River had given up more than a goal. In fact, the Chieftains had given up one goal – total – in their last seven matches combined.

Ryan Connop recalled a similar playoff match a couple years ago, when a senior headed in a ball in the final minutes of the match for a victory. Now he is the senior.

“That just flashed in my mind,” he said. “Just put the ball in the back of the net.”

The corner from the freshman, Yurichko, was on the mark.

“It was a beautiful ball,” Ryan Connop said. “Floated just right. Perfect ball for me to attack.”

The quarterfinals are next for the Chieftains, and their coach is thrilled just to continue on the journey.

“I feel very honored to be able to have another day practicing with them,” Afenegus said. “I’m happy it didn’t end tonight. We have at least a couple more days together.”

Puyallup 4, Skyview 1

The Vikings scored two first-half goals and then held off the Storm early in the second half to advance to the quarterfinals.

The Storm scored two minutes into the second half on a goal by Stephen Kiraly to cut the deficit to one goal. A few minutes later, the Storm were right in front of the net again, but the shot was denied.

 

Skyview’s Stephen Kiraly beats a Puyallup player to the ball during their Class 4A state playoff match Wednesday at Kiggins Bowl. Puyallup won 4-1. Photo by Mike Schultz
Skyview’s Stephen Kiraly beats a Puyallup player to the ball during their Class 4A state playoff match Wednesday at Kiggins Bowl. Puyallup won 4-1. Photo by Mike Schultz

 

Puyallup would add two insurance goals down the stretch.

“The game was not our best game tonight. Puyallup played a little bit better,” Skyview coach Colleen McKinney said.

Reaching the state tournament is progress for the program, but this season meant a lot more to McKinney than wins and losses. Skyview soccer has gone through major changes over the last few years, she noted, including three coaches.

“It’s about respecting each other. Our program had lost the love for each other. They lost a little belief in themselves,” McKinney said. “This year, they found it again.”

Skyview’s Mac Handley goes high in an attempt to get to the ball in the Storm’s playoff match against Puyallup. Skyview’s season came to an end in a 4-1 decision. Photo by Mike Schultz
Skyview’s Mac Handley goes high in an attempt to get to the ball in the Storm’s playoff match against Puyallup. Skyview’s season came to an end in a 4-1 decision. Photo by Mike Schultz

She thanked her team leaders for making it a special season.

“The seniors have set a new vision for our younger kids,” she said.

When the season came to an end, McKinney had one final message to the Storm.

“I told them I loved them.”

Evergreen 3, Shorecrest 0

Levan Zhividze, the 3A Greater St. Helens League’s player of the year, scored the first two goals of the match, and the Plainsmen are going to the quarterfinals for the first time in 16 years.

Levan Zhividze of Evergreen, shown here last week, scored two goals Wednesday in Evergreen’s 3-0 win over Shorecrest. Photo by Mike Schultz
Levan Zhividze of Evergreen, shown here last week, scored two goals Wednesday in Evergreen’s 3-0 win over Shorecrest. Photo by Mike Schultz

And then there were two

In all, six teams from the region made it to the state tournament. Three teams played Tuesday. Mountain View fell in the first round of the 3A bracket, losing 3-0 to Kennewick. Woodland lost to Highline 3-1 in the 2A bracket. And Seattle Academy topped La Center 2-0 in the 1A tourney.

That leaves Evergreen and Columbia River as the representatives of Clark County soccer.

Evergreen is set to travel to take on Lakeside at 5 p.m Friday at Interbay Stadium in Seattle.

Columbia River is back home at Kiggins Bowl for its quarterfinal match against Archbishop Murphy. That contest begins at 5 p.m.

Doubleheader at Kiggins

While Vancouver Public Schools was hoping to go 2-0 Wednesday night, the district’s athletic director was excited to be able to host state playoff matches, back-to-back.

“It’s very cool,” Albert Alcantar said. “Just shows what kind of programs we have in Southwest Washington.”

Columbia River clinched a home match in the state playoffs last Thursday. Skyview had to win a seeding game on Saturday to get a home contest in the first round. As soon as that happened, it just worked out with both opponents wanting to play Wednesday. Let’s play two.

Alcantar said he knows Columbia River and Skyview are local rivals, but when it comes to the playoffs, in different classifications, he hoped the players were supporting each other.

They were.

Columbia River won the 5 p.m. game and some of the Chieftains said they would be pulling for the Storm at the 7 p.m. match.

“They are our neighbors,” Jake Connop said. “We’re rooting for them.”


Class 3A bracket: http://wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1747

Class 2A bracket: http://wiaa.com/ardisplay.aspx?ID=1749

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About The Author

Paul Valencia

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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