Ridgefield, Columbia River, Hockinson representing 2A GSHL, while Camas earns top seed in 4A, and La Center is a No. 5 seed in 1A
The Ridgefield Spudders were thrilled to make it to the final four in the 2019 Class 2A girls soccer tournament, but not so much the result.
They lost in the semifinals before winning the third-place match.
“It was so super exciting to be there, and we were happy. But still, we were all, ‘Dang, maybe next time,’” said Paytn Barnette, a co-captain and senior this season.
Well, next time took a lot longer than anticipated, but here we are, the next time has arrived with the WIAA Class 2A state girls soccer playoffs.
And the Ridgefield Spudders are poised to go on another run.
Don’t be surprised if a lot of familiar faces make an impact, as well.
Ridgefield won the 2A District 4 championship last week, the toughest district in the state, coming out of the toughest league in the state.
In 2019, three teams from the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League made it to the state final four. Columbia River won it all in 2019, taking down Hockinson in the championship match.
Of course, there was no state tournament a year ago, but in the abbreviated campaign, the Hockinson Hawks went undefeated and did not allow a goal in winning the district championship.
This year? Ridgefield got the No. 3 seed from league, then won district.
Heading into the opening round of state, the Spudders are No. 3 seed in the tournament. Columbia River is at No. 5 and Hockinson is No. 7.
All three play opening round matches Wednesday night. In fact, all five Clark County teams that reached state play tonight. Camas is the top-seeded team in Class 4A. La Center earned a 5-seed in Class 1A.
The 2A state tournament, though, has been the destination for the 2A GSHL. At least one team from the league has reached the final four since 2014.
The Spudders appreciate what the league provides for them.
“It’s really competitive, but I love the environment because you know you are facing possibly the toughest teams you’ll face the entire season,” Ridgefield co-captain Elizabeth Farley said.
In fact, five of the final six teams in the district tournament — battling for four state playoff bids — were from the 2A GSHL.
“It gives you a challenge throughout the whole year,” Barnette said. “It’s not like you’re annihilating everyone. It gives us an opportunity to grow throughout the whole year, so when we get to district and state, we’re kind of prepared already because we’ve faced tough teams all season.”
Ridgefield went 2-1 against Hockinson, including a victory in the district title match. The Spudders also went 2-1 against Columbia River, including a victory in the district semifinals.
“It was a well-earned reward,” Barnette said of the district championship. “In league, we definitely had some ups and downs. In district, we did really well just coming together as a team, working hard, and persevering.”
Farley said the district crown gives Ridgefield an extra boost of confidence going into state.
“It’s always a really big battle with Hockinson. We know who’s on that team. We know what we’re up against,” Farley said. “When you beat them, it feels really well deserved.”
Starting tonight, the regular season, the district tournament … they mean nothing. It’s all about state. Farley and Barnette say they will be pulling for Hockinson and Columbia River in their matches.
“It just really represents our league really well. Just shows we are super strong,” Farley said if the teams keep winning.
“Even if we don’t go far, we still want them to go far,” Barnette said. “If we can’t do it, at least someone from our league can represent our area.”
With the 3-seed to the state tournament, the Spudders are assured of two home matches, provided they win the first match against Enumclaw at 6 p.m. Wednesday.
“I just love playing for my school so much,” Farley said. “Looking out at your student section, and just seeing your friends out there supporting you just means a lot. Also, our administration is also out there. They’ll tell you congratulations the next day in your class. I love representing a school that is super positive and really good to me.”
Barnette noted that all teams, all athletes, at the school support one another, too. Just makes for a fun environment. This fall, for example, the football team has earned a No. 5 seed, and the two-time defending state champion volleyball team is looking to clinch another trip to state this week.
Back to soccer, the Spudders say they are ready for the next challenge.
“We know if we play our soccer, we play it correctly, we can beat any team that we face,” Farley said.
State soccer first-round matches
No. 16 Kennedy Catholic at No. 1 Camas, 6 p.m. Wednesday at Doc Harris Stadium
No. 14 Enumclaw at No. 3 Ridgefield, 6 p.m. Wednesday at Ridgefield High School
No. 12 White River vs. No. 5 Columbia River, 6 p.m. Wednesday at Kiggins Bowl in Vancouver
No. 10 Sehome vs. No. 7 Hockinson, 6 p.m. Wednesday at District Stadium in Battle Ground
No. 12 Bush vs. No. 5 La Center, 6 p.m. Wednesday at Woodland High School