PORTLAND — The St. Mary’s girls soccer team has an unfortunate pattern of falling into the same side of the bracket as Oregon Episcopal in the Class 3A/2A/1A state playoffs.
Top-seeded Oregon Episcopal defeated No. 5 seed St. Mary’s 6-1 in the state semifinals, marking the seventh meeting since 2008 between the two teams, several of which ended the season for St. Mary’s in the same round of the tournament.
“We really played a good match against them; they just wore us out with their speed and skill level,” St. Mary’s coach Dave Potter said.
“We just got beat by a better team today, but we got a plaque for third place (in state) and we’re real proud of the girls for that,” he added.
Maddie Wheelock, a junior, netted the lone goal for the Crusaders (10-5), champions of District 5.
It was only the fifth goal of the season allowed by the Aardvarks (16-0), who will face No. 2 seed Catlin Gablin in Saturday’s championship match at Liberty High in Hillsboro.
“I know it made them unhappy,” Potter said of Wheelock’s goal, her third of the playoffs.
Meghan Michels, a junior who was moved up from defender to striker, nearly added another goal and created scoring chances for other St. Mary’s players.
Another standout player for the Crusaders was senior Sara Klott, who provided excellent play in the midfield.
“She played her heart out,” Potter said. “It was really impressive on her part.”
Sophie Chen and Annika Lovestrand each notched a pair of goals, including one apiece in the first half to put Oregon Episcopal ahead 2-0 at halftime.
St. Mary’s starting keeper, senior Adrien Birmingham, was injured on the second goal, in the 28th minute, and forced to leave the match. She was replaced by sophomore Zoe Alftine, who filled in admirably for the remainder of the match under difficult circumstances.
The Aardvarks made it 3-0 in the 46th minute on a corner kick by Olivia Giannini, who found Zoe Sthrothkamp for the score.
Chen’s second goal, in the 48th minute, made it 4-0, and Lovestrand tacked on her second goal in the 77th minute to cap the scoring.
Megan Ruoff, an all-state selection, also scored for Oregon Episcopal, finding the back of the net unassisted in the 61st minute to make it 5-0.
St. Mary’s back line of defense, led by Michels and Grace Weber, helped keep the score from getting out of hand.
Potter was pleased with his team’s loose demeanor, a stark contrast from last week’s quarterfinal victory over Pleasant Hill in which his players were tight.
“We grew a great deal during the year and all the promise that was shown was delivered,” Potter said.