PORTLAND – With a chance to make history, Cleveland's girls soccer team was all business Tuesday night.
The fourth-seeded Warriors (15-1-3) scored twice in the first 21 minutes and went on to defeat No. 8 West Linn 3-0 in a 6A semifinal, earning their first-ever berth to the state championship game.
Senior Elsie Koehler converted a penalty kick in the 17th minute and junior Lola Pierce scored off a pass from Mason Bregoli in the 21st minute for a 2-0 lead. Cleveland held West Linn (13-3-2) at bay the rest of the way, and made it 3-0 with 2:05 left in the match when junior Emma Bass deflected a cross inside the near post.
“We just stuck to what we know,” Koehler said. “In the second half, we were definitely more defensive-minded. Our back line throughout the year, they've just been so consistent. I think that's what won us this game was our defense.”
Cleveland, which lost in the quarterfinals last year, is on a 17-game unbeaten streak since a 9-1 loss to reigning 6A champion Jesuit. That streak includes a 2-1 win at West Linn on Sept. 26.
“All my years through high school, we've always been working our way up,” senior defender Jaidyn Richter said. “I knew this year, with the incoming freshmen and everything, we were going to be a solid team. Our back line is solid. People don't see us as a strong team sometimes, but we come out and surprise people, which I like.”
The Warriors now get a chance to play for the 6A title against Portland Interscholastic League rival Grant. The teams tied 1-1 in a league match, with Cleveland taking an early lead and the Generals scoring on a late free kick.
“It's definitely an even match,” Richter said. “We play them every year, so we know them well. I have friends on that team, so it will be a good, friendly, competitive match.”
Cleveland coach Doug Diller, whose team finished in second place to Grant in the PIL, likes the idea of matching wits again with Generals coach Manolis Tjuanakis.
“Super. I love playing Manolis,” Diller said. “Their team is always good, and they're always just dialed in. It's going to be tight. The first time ever it's a PIL final, so that's exciting that we've had such high quality in the PIL.”
The Warriors have proven they can handle the playoff pressure. In four playoff games, they have outscored their opponents 8-1. In the quarterfinals, they came back from a goal behind with 14 minutes left to defeat Mountainside 3-1.
“For sure, each half has gotten better since our first playoff game, so that's been fun to see,” Diller said. “I think they had a lot of nerves in the first game because they did feel the pressure of being No. 4 and wanting to do well. Once we got past that, it's just been a confidence without a cockiness to it.
The Warriors have come a long way since the loss to Jesuit.
“I think our chemistry grew a lot over the past two months,” Koehler said. “We're just able to play less frantic and calm down, and play some good soccer.”
Playing from ahead Tuesday helped Cleveland settle into the match.
“That was huge,” Richter said. “The Mountainside game, we scored after them. Solidifying the lead in the first half was big. Going into the second half, knowing we could just play our game, and possess the ball, and they would have to work for it.”
West Linn was riding an emotional high after stunning Jesuit in a penalty-kick shootout in the quarterfinals, ending the Crusaders' 35-match winning streak. The Lions, state runners-up to Jesuit last year, were on a mission this season but fell short.
“We were definitely wanting to do better than last year,” senior Berni Wayland said. “I think we did, in a way. Beating Jesuit was very satisfying for us, but I'm sad that we couldn't make it all the way to the final.”
West Linn senior Kate Cheldelin said that beating Jesuit “was good and bad.”
“It was really inspiring as a team, and it really motivated us,” Cheldelin said. “We proved to ourselves and we showed everyone that we could do it. But at the same time we kind of got comfortable. And I feel like we could have prepared slightly better for this game and been more focused.”
In Tuesday's other semifinal matches:
Grant dodged PIL rival Lincoln 3-1 at Delta Park, avenging a 3-2 second-round loss to the Cardinals last year. Abbie Day scored in the second minute to put the Generals ahead, but Lincoln made it 1-1 in the 49th minute when Kennedy Fletcher scored on a header off a corner kick. Day and Kate Ratanaproeksa blasted shots from about 25 yards out for goals in the 60th and 66th minutes, respectively, for a 3-1 lead.
Wilsonville, last year's champion, defeated Northwest Oregon Conference rival La Salle Prep 4-1 as Camryn Schaan and Bri Crane each had two goals and one assist. Tegan Waters and Kenley Whittaker added assists for the Wildcats. … North Eugene will get a chance at its first title after defeating Caldera 4-0. Payton Buschelman (16th minute), Hannah Smyth (69th minute), Zari Thomas (73rd minute) and Kendal Priaulx (74th minute) found the net for the Highlanders.
Reigning champion Marist Catholic will return to the final after beating Hidden Valley 1-0. Cloe Chase scored her 52nd goal of the season in the 48th minute, off Libby McLaughlin's 28th assist. The Spartans had a 13-0 edge in shots. … North Marion will appear in its first official final after winning at Scappoose 3-1. The Huskies built a 3-0 lead on goals from Bethany Dunn (28th minute), Vicky Valenzuela (47th minute) and Izzy Doubrava (57th minute). Scappoose's Alice Davidson scored on a free kick in the 61st minute.
Addi Dauler had two goals and three assists and Campbell Swaim had a goal and two assists for Catlin Gabel, which ousted Amity 6-1. Annika Sirtori and Alana Hill also scored for the Eagles, who led 2-0 at half. Amity's Mya Haarsma scored with six minutes left in the match. … Valley Catholic handled Sisters 4-1. Malia Groshong, Elle Spangler, Caitlin Queen and Paulina Filip scored for the reigning champion Valiants, who will play Catlin Gabel in the final for the second year in a row. Shae Wyland scored for Sisters, assisted by Marley Holden.
Mauricio Loyo scored three overtime goals to lift Lakeridge over Lake Oswego 3-0. Loyo scored 17 seconds into the first overtime for a 1-0 lead, and added two goals in the second overtime. … Jesuit edged Grant 2-1. Nathan Peters scored off a Pablo Sandoval corner kick in the 37th minute and Diego Nieves converted an assist from Kian Stone in the 46th minute. The Generals scored with 14 minutes left.
Summit turned back La Salle Prep 2-1 in a match between teams that lost in the semifinals last year. Bowen Teuber put the Storm ahead 1-0 in the third minute and Quinton Swanston made it 2-0 in the 15th minute, off an assist by Cole Bradley. La Salle Prep's only goal came in the 78th minute from Cooper Eldon, assisted by Kevin Serrano Maldonado. … Felipe Mendez's tiebreaking goal with five minutes left gave Hood River Valley a 2-1 win over Wilsonville. Mendez opened the scoring in the fourth minute and Wilsonville equalized in the 13th minute.
Newport dropped North Marion 3-1 in overtime. The Cubs took a 2-1 lead 1:30 into the first overtime when Anthony Gonzalez scored on a header off a corner kick by Ivan Hernandez. They made it 3-1 on a goal by Aaidyn Bokuro with three minutes left in the second overtime. Newport's regulation goal came from Brock Spink in the 25th minute. Noah Martinson had nine saves. … Cottage Grove eliminated The Dalles 3-1, scoring goals in the 62nd and 68th minutes after the Riverhawks tied it 1-1 on a penalty kick in the 58th minute. Cottage Grove took a 1-0 lead with four minutes left in the first half.
McLoughlin knocked out Catlin Gabel 4-3, winning a penalty-kick shootout 4-2. Catlin Gabel led 1-0 and 3-2, but McLoughlin forced overtime on a goal by Danny Gonzalez with nine minutes left. Angel Castillo, Gonzalez, Geovanny Sandoval and Romario Garcia scored in the shootout for the Pioneers. Castillo had two goals in regulation. The Eagles got two goals from Raul Rendon Benitez and one goal from Papa Diallo. … Freshman Adam Wachsmuth scored twice, both on assists from Brady Housley, as Westside Christian downed St. Mary's 4-1. Housley and Adrian Vidican had Westside Christian's other two goals.