By Mike Weber

For the Baker City Herald

SCAPPOOSE — The Baker girls soccer team was certainly peaking at the right time for the Class 4A state playoffs, having won 10 of their past 11 games.

But the 14th-ranked Bulldogs (8-4-3) had a tough first-round draw, traveling most of the way across the state to take on No. 3 Scappoose (11-3-1) on Halloween on the Indians’ home pitch.

Scappoose showed why they won the Cowapa League, stifling Baker’s offense in a 3-0 win.

Scappoose had won 11 of its last 12 games, with one tie during that stretch.

The Indians utilized a prolific offensive attack, outshooting Baker 39-2.

Baker, guided by coach Kristen Rushton, fell behind early as senior midfielder Mackenzie Ela scored a goal just 25 seconds into the contest.

“The other team was just really polite, with really nice players and they’re a very good team that displayed good sportsmanship and it was a great game,” Rushton said.

“Everybody on our team played as best as they possibly could today and they all did a great job. It was a very close game, the girls played real hard and I think that we did a good job of focusing on our team strength. Scappoose was tough, they were fast on the side and they had a lot of good crossing passes and they just finished a lot better than we did.”

Baker fought back and senior midfielder and leading scorer Josie Ash (20 total goals) delivered a powerful shot towards the Indian goal in the 11th minute. But Scappoose goalkeeper Ani Havlik grabbed the ball for the save.

“After winning a play-in game and then reaching the first round of the state tournament, it’s definitely been a pretty exciting year for us,” said Ash, a first team all star pick in the Greater Oregon League. “I was really hoping to score a goal today. Our main goal this year was to win a play-in game, because that’s something that we’ve been trying to do for the last couple of years. It’s tough to end the season with a loss, but we played a very good team today and we had a lot of fun.”

Baker beat Mazama 7-0 on Oct. 28 to advance to Tuesday’s first-round match.

Baker displayed a rock solid defensive effort, led by junior goalkeeper Emily Black (12 saves), along with defenders Cali Ward, Natalie Nelson, Emily Carter and Mary Rushton.

“They (Scappoose) definitely had a lot of shots, but we played well and I feel proud of my team,” said Black, a second team GOL all star. “It feels good for sure to reach the state tournament and we had to beat other good teams just to get here, so it’s good to be a part of it.”

The Bulldogs guarded the Indian playmakers well and prevented them from further first half scoring as it remained just a 1-0 halftime margin. At that point, the Bulldogs still had a chance if they could just get untracked offensively, but they were unable to do that.

“I’m absolutely proud of everyone for helping us reach the state playoffs,” Coach Rushton said. “Our six seniors have worked so hard for this the last four years and this has been a breakthrough season for our team. As a coach, it’s just wonderful to see how much we’ve improved in the last few years. Emily Black was really the star of the game with her incredible performance in the goal area.”

Scappoose, led by coach Summer Jark, was able to break through the Baker defense and added a goal in the 47th minute for a 2-0 lead. The Indians continued their strong offensive performance and put another ball into the back of the net in the 66th minute for the final 3-0 margin.

Scappoose had a big time of possession advantage offensively in controlling the ball in Baker’s defensive side of the field for 60 minutes of the 80-minute contest.

“In the second half, we did a much better job of opening up and seeing the field and getting our outside midfielders more involved in our offensive attack and that helped us to enjoy some success,” Jark said. “In the first minute we felt pretty good, but then we backed off somewhat and they (Baker) started to get some good opportunities. In soccer, anything can happen, so a 1-0 lead isn’t really much of an advantage at all.”

The contest marked the final game of their Baker High School soccer career for seniors Ash, Ward, Kaiza Rea, Carter, Charity Rushton and Andrea Niederbach.

“It was up for grabs at halftime and we’ve overcome leads like that during the season, but they are just a really good team,” said Ward, a GOL second team all star selecti on. “It was hard to keep up with them because they were a little quicker team than we were and they handled their passing really well. It was a very exciting season. Our team has come a long way in the last few years. Three years ago we only won two games and then we followed by reaching the play-in round the last two years (2015, 2016).”

Carter and junior forward Kaitlyn Nelson also earned GOL second team all star awards to wrap up a highly successful season for the Bulldogs. Natalie Nelson also won a GOL first team all star award.

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