• Cardinals' semifinal victory over Sunset showed 'heart of this team'
Lincoln's players were excitedly stunned after beating Sunset 1-0 in the girls soccer state semifinals.
A goal by senior Daelyn Richards in the 64th minute pushed the Portland Interscholastic League co-champions into the state final for the first time.
Lincoln will play Sheldon of Eugene for the title at 5 p.m. Saturday at Tigard High.
It's only the second time a PIL team has been in the championship game in the 27-year history of prep soccer finals Ñ a fact that Lincoln coach Jody Lim pointed out to her players.
'The state has been dominated for so long by just a few teams, but now the playing field seems to be getting level again,' says Lim, who has guided the Cardinals for 11 years. 'It's wonderful that we finally get a chance to play for a title.'
Lincoln lost in the semifinals last year. Wilson was a co-champion in 1977, but co-champions are a thing of the past.
Beginning this year, the final will be played until a winner is crowned. If the teams are tied after two 40-minute halves and two 10-minute overtime periods, they'll proceed to a penalty-kick shootout.
'I'm so excited about the final,' says junior goalkeeper Betsy Hornstein, who made several key saves against Sunset before a crowd of 1,000 at Lincoln's Mike Walsh Field. 'This was kind of a rebuilding year when we started in August, but we came together really quickly, and I think we all thought we had the potential to get back to this level.
'I can hardly believe we're going to play in the final.'
Richards played in Texas last year and attended a school of more than 3,000 students. Her team reached the semifinals in her junior year. But she credits the Lincoln program with helping her understand the potential of team play.
'It's the heart of this team that gets it through the tough games,' she says. 'And that's something I haven't experienced before. I've played on a lot of teams in high school and in club soccer, and this team is unique in its ability to find a way to win.'
Seniors Caroline Milleson and Katie Bradley are co-captains for the Cardinals.
Lincoln got a key break in the semis when Sunset goalkeeper Erica Clausen was given a red card and ejected from the game near the end of the first half. It happened during a scramble for the ball at the edge of the Apollos' penalty box. Sunset played the rest of the game with just 10 players.
Richards' goal may have improved her stock with college scouts. She's being eyed by the University of Portland. Richards says she invited coaches from UP to attend Tuesday's game.
Ruth Gilliam, the PIL player of the year last year, was among the former Lincoln players on hand to watch the Sunset game.
'I'm so jealous of these girls,' says Gilliam, a backup goalkeeper for the University of Portland. 'I didn't get to play in a final.
'But they deserve this, and I'm going to be there with them on Saturday. I feel like this is still my team.'
Sheldon earned its spot in the title game by beating Jesuit 2-0. Jesuit had played in the final the last nine years, winning eight times.
Sheldon beat Grant, the other PIL co-champion, in the quarterfinals on Saturday. Lim says will get some scouting information on the Sheldon players from Grant coach Tony Asquith.
Lim is something of an oddity at the top level of high school soccer in the metro area because she doesn't coach a club team. She plays on a women's team but keeps only occasional contact with the coaches of middle school teams and various club teams that feature Lincoln players during the offseason.
'I just don't have the time to coach a club team, but that doesn't seem to have affected the program,' she says. 'We had 65 girls try out this year.
That's a record for my years here.'