Rapids advance in state soccer playoffs behind another shutout
There were some nerves before the match.
Understandable, considering the stakes.
The Columbia River boys soccer team was about to open the Class 2A state tournament on Wednesday.
Sure, the Rapids are the top seed in the tournament, going undefeated in the regular season and the district tournament.
But this is still soccer. Still competition. Anything can happen.
So there were some pre-game jitters.
Once the match started, though, it was all about execution, relying on each other to work toward a common goal. You know, just like every other match so far this season.
The Rapids attacked the Foster goal throughout the first half, and once they got one in the net, all the momentum went Columbia River’s way. The Rapids scored three first-half goals, and cruised to the first-round victory, settling for a 3-0 win.
In other playoff matchups, the Union Titans went to Spokane and stunned Gonzaga Prep with a 4-1 victory. Union, the 12-seed, advances to the 4A quarterfinals and will take on No. 13 Davis on Saturday.
Earlier in the week, Hockinson’s season came to an end with a loss in the 2A playoffs.
Later this week, Seton Catholic and King’s Way Christian will open up play in the 1A state playoffs.
Columbia River is known for its scoring punch, averaging five goals per match. The Rapids are just as strong on defense, too.
Seniors Cole Benner and Hunter Cunningham lead the backline for the Rapids, but they say the defensive dominance starts with everyone on the field.
“Our defense is so good because of our chemistry. We read each other. We talk to each other,” Cunningham said.
“It takes everyone. We just do the clean-up work,” Benner said.
Cunningham noted that the goals that River has conceded this season have come from miscommunication. Every goal matters to the Rapids, so they get together and go over each goal they have given up, in hopes of learning from their mistakes, ensuring not to repeat them.
The Rapids want to become flawless, he said.
Of course, the competition is soon to get even stronger, too. Columbia River will face East Valley of Yakima in the quarterfinals on Saturday. A win there will send the Rapids to the final four.
Benner said the mindset is to shut out every opponent. He understands that does not always happen, but as a defender, that has to be the thought-process.
It all comes back to communication.
“Me and Hunter played club together, so we already had that chemistry,” Benner said. “It just helps to know how everybody on the team is playing and where everybody’s going to be so I can be in a better position to help them if the ball gets through.”
“It really comes down to trust,” Cunningham said. “If I trust Cole is going to be there covering, I don’t have to waste time looking.”
That trust has been built up for years, too. It has turned into a near-perfect performance their senior year. Columbia River has not given up more than one goal in any match this season.
When adding that offensive power punch to the equation, well, it’s no wonder the Rapids are the top seed in this tournament. After Wednesday’s victory, Columbia River has outscored opponents 105-6 this season.
Benner said the Rapids’ success this season is all the more reason to become more focused going into the quarterfinals, and, they hope, the final four. They have been so good for so long, they know everyone is going to give them their best.
“Seeding just doesn’t matter at all,” Benner said. “Anybody can beat us. We can’t let it get to our heads that we are the No. 1 seed. We come out every game like we are playing against the absolute best team.”
With that philosophy, Columbia River will not overlook anyone.
The goal, of course, is to win it all, earn another state championship for the program. Benner said he wants to end on a high note, knowing he is not going to play sports in college. Cunningham will be playing soccer at Warner Pacific.
No matter the future, these two, and the rest of the seniors on the team, know they have between one and three more matches together in high school.
Columbia River soccer is a family. This season will end soon, but Cunningham, noticing the alumni in the crowd on Wednesday, said the family structure will endure, to the next season, the season after that, and beyond.
That family connection and their chemistry have made a world of difference for Columbia River soccer.
Tennis, anyone? If Columbia River soccer wins on Saturday in the quarterfinals, there will be some interesting logistical decisions that will have to be made. Cole Benner and Alex Harris, stars of the soccer team, also qualified for state tennis. Goalkeeper Cameron Harris is an alternate to state in tennis.
State tennis will be at the University of Washington on May 26 and 27. State soccer final four will be in Renton on May 26 and 27.
Some regions of the state, including Southwest Washington, hold the regular season of boys tennis and golf in the fall, with state tournaments in the spring. Athletes in those sports who also play a different spring sport understand that it can create a schedule conflict.
It could happen at Columbia River.
Benner said he is not sure what will happen. Could the tennis players play during the day and make it to the soccer semifinals in Renton by 7 p.m. on that Friday? For now, the tennis/soccer players are open to anything, Benner said.
First, the soccer team has to win on Saturday.
- High School Baseball: Clark County All-Stars shine for most of the nightSeniors from local high schools gathered in Ridgefield on Tuesday for the annual Clark County Senior All-Star Baseball series, and then coaches voted for the county’s nominees to the all-state series later this month.
- WDFW invites comment on proposed rules to set 2023-24 salmon fishing seasonsThe Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife is seeking public comment on proposed rules for the 2023-24 recreational and commercial salmon fishing seasons, encouraging public participation in shaping the regulations.
- Championships: Clark County schools celebrate several state titles in spring sportsColumbia River boys soccer, Camas girls and boys tennis win team titles, with several individual claiming championships as well on the final weekend of high school spring sports in Washington.
- High school softball: Skyview, Ridgefield among top seeds in their state tournamentsThe Class 3A state high school softball tournament starts Thursday with Evergreen and Heritage, while Class 4A (Skyview and Battle Ground) and Class 2A (Ridgefield) starts Friday.
- County’s only 18-hole disc golf course opens at Hockinson Meadows Community ParkThe disc golf course at Hockinson Meadows Community Park in Vancouver is now open after facing unexpected delays, with tournaments and league-play events set to start in the fall, and full completion of the project expected in September.