Papermakers look to return to boys soccer state playoffs after missing out last season
CAMAS — These Camas Papermakers have been part of one of the greatest accomplishments in Washington high school sports history.
For 19 consecutive seasons, the Camas boys soccer program made it to the WIAA state tournament.
These Papermakers also were part of the team that saw that great feat come to an end last spring.
Today’s Papermakers cannot change what happened in 2018. They can, however, rely on the past to guide them into the future.
The pride of Camas soccer remains.
So, too, does the Camas mystique.
“We are definitely blessed to have the program we have,” said senior Connor Flolo. “It is special.”
Even though Camas did not win the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League last year, the name Camas still demands respect.
“We have big targets on our backs,” senior Luke Davidson said.
“Teams are really wanting to come in to beat us,” Flolo said. “It brings to us a responsibility to stay focused.”
That focus was lacking last year, the players acknowledged.
“We took the league for granted,” junior Zander Samodurov said. “We didn’t have the heart and desire to win. This year, we all have that desire to get it back.”
“It changed our mindset,” Flolo said. “We know how it feels now. We didn’t know how it felt before.”
It is not as if Camas soccer fell off a cliff last year. Sure, it was weird to check the final standings and see Camas in fourth place. But a closer look brings more detail. The Papermakers played to a draw in their final match of the season. One more goal that night would have given Camas the win, would have earned Camas a co-league title, would have sent Camas to the playoffs. Yes, the 4A GSHL was that close last season.
One goal. That was the difference. One goal.
“Sometimes the game is cruel, and the results don’t always go your way,” Camas coach Dan Macaya said.
Samodurov said he had mixed emotions after that tie last season, a tie that really was a loss in the long run.
“I felt maybe we deserved it, because we were so close,” Samodurov said. “But I understand we didn’t do what we needed in order to win. Looking to this year, we’re doing what we can to get back on top.”
Camas rebounded from its first 4A GSHL loss of the season last week with a 4-0 victory over Battle Ground on Monday night. The Papermakers and Skyview are tied atop the standings with 3-1 marks.
The Papermakers know they are not perfect. They won’t make it back with their name only. But they also know they can get it done this season.
“At the start of the season … the desire was there to make a change,” Macaya said.
It is personal for him, too.
The 2017 team had a number of seniors. The next wave of talent was coming up for Camas in 2018, but with less experience. One more big change? Macaya was taking over for longtime coach Roland Minder.
A year later, Macaya said he only now feels like this is truly his program.
“I want it. I want to win a league championship,” Macaya said. “I hope to steer these guys there. And I think we have the group to do it.”
The Papermakers are not dwelling on last year. They are using last year as a reminder, though.
“Definitely disappointed. Definitely humbled,” Flolo said. “We need to be more sharp. We have to focus every single game, every practice. If you have a bad practice, it can affect the playoffs.”
Now, the Papermakers are looking for more consistency. They played one of their best matches of the year against Union to open league play. But last week, they failed to convert on several scoring chances and lost to Skyview 2-1.
There is no panic.
“We will work our butts off and train and fix what happened here today,” Davidson said on Friday night.
Even after 19 consecutive state tournament appearances, nothing is guaranteed in sports.
Well, almost nothing.
These Papermakers can guarantee they are doing what they can to try to start another streak.
“Now, we are more hungry,” Flolo said.