The Spartans dominate, despite their youth, to win the 1st state title, after finishing 2nd six times, including 2019 and the Covid year 2020
Mattie Andrus (4) and Sela Freeman work towards the Hidden Valley goal. The Spartans seemed to be ahead throughout the game.
HILLSBORO – Forty-one (41) years of playing soccer and Marist Catholic had never won their last playoff game.
Until Saturday, that is, when the Spartans dominated from start to finish to win their first state championship, 4-0, on hidden valley at the OSAA/OnPoint Community Credit Union Girls 4A Soccer State Championship at Liberty High School in Hillsboro.
The Marist Catholics finished 18-1 on the season, a program record for wins.
“18-1 is a historic season,” said the head coach Stefan Schroffner. “It is the winningest team in the history of Marist football.”
The Spartans, who only lost to 5A North Eugene, played perhaps 4A’s most demanding schedule. It included the 3A champion valley catholic (a 3-0 win), multiple top 4A teams and strong 5A teams Springfield and Churchill. They finished the season with seven straight shutouts (15 overall) and their playoff run included wins over Philomath, No. 4 in the latest OSAAtoday coaches poll, in the quarterfinals; #3 Marion North in the semi-finals; and No. 7 Hidden Valley, for the second time this season, in the championship game. The Marist Catholics won the regular season game, 2-0, in mid-September.
“It showed our quality, the solidity of our defense and our ability to score,” noted Schroffner.
And yet, if you had told Schroffner that this was the year Marist Catholics would finally break through and win a state championship, he wouldn’t have believed you. The Spartans graduated eight seniors from all leagues a year ago – this team lost in the quarter-finals against Gladstone — and their roster of 22 included 17 freshmen and sophomores.
“We persevered,” he said. “They are young and fearless, with excellent leadership from their three captains.”
These three captains, senior Paige MeadorSenior Sela Freeman and junior Cloe Chase, combined for all four goals and the only assist of the match.
“They’ve done an incredible job of moving this team forward, keeping them hungry and holding us accountable,” Schroffner said.
Hidden Valley (12-3-1) was playing in its second straight state final. The Mustangs lost on penalties, 7-6, last year after being tied 0-0 in regulation play and overtime last year.
As a Marist Catholic, Hidden Valley was far from returning to the state, having also graduated eight impact players. The Mustangs reached the final despite having no JV teams and only 18 players, overall, in their program.
“Our squad was split 50-50 between experienced and less experienced players,” the coach said. Denis Hart. “We just went to work. I expected us to make the playoffs; I just didn’t know how we would do next.
Hart knew beating Marist on Saturday would be a tall order. When asked before the game what Hidden Valley needed to do to win the state, he responded this way:
“Playing a perfect game of football, which means when we walk off the pitch, we can all look each other in the eye and say we competed for every inch of the pitch and gave everything we had in this game. is a victory for us.
For almost the first 30 minutes, Hidden Valley did just that. The Mustangs took on the Marist Catholics in a start played largely in midfield. Schroffner thought Hidden Valley could play conservatively, hoping to get extra time and PKs, to counterbalance Marist Catholic’s dynamic attack, which averaged 4.5 goals per game.
Marist got good work from Freeman, Chase, Ava Snyder and Ella Braunger in those first 30 minutes.
In the fourth minute, Freeman showed great vision as he tried to blast a team-mate with a through ball, but was deflected just enough by Hidden Valley in the midfield area. In the eighth minute, Snyder made a long run, but lacked the legs to finish the game with a solid cross. In the 23rd minute, a cross from Mattie Andrus was confidently stopped by the Hidden Valley freshman guard Harley Hipps. Four minutes later, Chase sent a fine ball to Freeman but Hipps grabbed the ball first to deny some scoring opportunity.
Several Hidden Valley players stood out in this streak with Hipps, none more than in second year Gracelyn Da Vaultwho got a header off a cross in the ninth minute, but saw it finish over the crossbar. Riley Yunker was also solid, using his speed to create chances on the wings.
In the 30th minute, Marist Catholics finally broke through. Chase, who had scored 26 goals this season and at least one goal in every game she would play this year, received a pass from Meador in the box to the left of the goal. The ultra-athletic junior, a University of Oregon rookie, set it with his chest, then volleyed it to create space before finishing with a shot past Hipps to the bottom right corner fillet.
“If Cloe is open, I find Cloe,” Meador said. “I know she scores; it’s a goal machine.
“The goal came out of nowhere to be honest,” added Chase. “I trusted my other captains to give me the ball. I was in an awkward position at the near post but I knew I had to put it in and kick it with the outside of my right foot and it went straight into the net on the right side. It was so rewarding. I was delighted that we came first on the board and was able to contribute to the victory for the team.
Under one goal, Hidden Valley immediately went to work to tie the game. DaVault went close with a free kick over the crossbar. Two minutes later, another DaVault free kick was deflected away from the goal by the Marist Catholic first-year keeper, Emilie Meigs. by Gabrielle Heverly the ensuing corner kick found the head of Hannah Rommes but she could only direct her towards the goal.
Marist Catholic, who edged Hidden Valley 5-3 in the first half, increased their pressure early in the second half. That pressure paid off early, when Freeman handed the ball to Chase in attacking position. Hidden Valley had no choice but to foul. Freeman converted the penalty low and left, giving Marist Catholic a huge second goal.
“We were a bit overwhelmed with Marist’s physical ability and speed,” Hart said. “We got on well. They broke through and it took a bit of air in our sails. We had a short bench – we were a little dull – and that made it a bit of a hill to climb.
After that second goal, Hidden Valley only had one more corner kick and another shot the rest of the way. Feisty freshman Gina SchroffnerFoam all leagues Piper Paslay, Emma Hart, Meador, Braunger and the rest of the Spartan defense worked hard to prevent Meigs from having to do too much to preserve the shutout, and Marist’s midfield and front line consistently kept the ball on the Hidden Valley side.
“After we got one, it pushed them to continue in the second half,” Schroffner explained. “We showed our quality and put the ball in the back of the net a few times.”
Goal number three came from a free kick in the 76th minute of the 80-minute game. From a severe angle about 14 yards to the right of goal, Meador struck a superb through ball with pace that bent inside the far post. It was the sixth goal of the year for the seniors.
“I’m super happy to have scored the goal in my last game of my career,” she said.
Marist Catholic scored again 90 seconds later as Freeman’s blast from 40 yards on another free-kick snuck into the bottom left corner. She finished the season with a team record 32 goals.
Insurance goals gave the Marist team the luxury of thinking about winning the state and imagining the pile of dogs to come.
“It was so rewarding,” Chase said. “I don’t even know how to describe this feeling. I just knew that my team was happy. We made history.
“It’s amazing,” Meador said. “It’s my third time playing at State; it’s about time we won. I’m really proud. I’m so impressed with our young players. They’ve worked hard. We started off a little shaky, but we checked in the second half and got the job done.
Hart had a healthy outlook on the loss of Hidden Valley.
“It’s just a blessing to be here,” he said. “It was so amazing for us to get this far. You leave with sadness in your eyes but everyone walks off the pitch giving their all. Let that last moment be a loss…it’s going to sting for a while, but the glory of it all and the whole thing was that it was great for us.