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Kingsmen prove they belong

But they meet their match in the defending state champs


The battle-tested and ninth-ranked Rex Putnam Kingsmen proved on Nov. 5 that they deserved to be ranked among the top teams in the state, as they won a 2-1 overtime thriller from eighth-ranked Corvallis in a first-round game of the Class 5A state high school girls soccer playoffs.

The two teams battled to a 1-1 standoff through 80 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtimes. The game then went to an overtime shootout, with the Kingsmen earning a 4-2 advantage on penalty kicks, making their first four in a row.

Heroine honors went to Putnam senior keeper Bella Geist and to Kingsmen junior forward Makenzie Maier.

Besides limiting the Spartans to just one goal in regulation, Geist scored the Kingsmen’s first goal of the overtime shootout and made a save in the shootout.

Freshman Megan Spaulding, Maier and junior Madi Kading also hit their PK’s in the shootout, gaining the Kingsmen the win.

Maier, who sat out much of the season recuperating from surgery on a knee, saw her most action of the season, playing about 65 minutes. And the Spartans had their hands full in trying to slow her down.

“It was Makenzie’s fifth game back and she’s getting close to 100 percent,” said Putnam coach Alex Ponce. “She was a handful for them.”

Putnam trailed 1-0 with five minutes remaining in regulation when Maier got shoved, earning a free kick. She took the kick herself, sending a rocket into the net from 30 yards out to knot the score at 1-1 and bring about the overtime.

“Makenzie took the shot real quick, before they were ready and put it where she wanted it to go,” said Ponce. It was a laser, low and into the side netting. The goalie didn’t have a chance.”

Corvallis led most of the game, taking advantage of a miscommunication between Geist and her defense to score a goal and go up 1-0 just ten minutes into the game.

“We didn’t panic,” said Ponce. “We tightened up on defense and they didn’t threaten the rest of the half.”

Ponce said his counter-attacking Kingsmen also had the best of the play in the second half and in the extra periods.

Ponce said Putnam earned a 5-2 advantage in corner kicks and he said that Geist made six saves in regulation play.

“Bella does a phenomenal job every single game she plays in,” said Ponce. “She kept us in it with her perseverance, and helped us out on offense as well.”

The win gained the Kingsmen a spot in Saturday’s Class 5A quarterfinals, where they met defending state champion and top ranked Summit on the road.

The Special District 1 champion Storm (15-0-2, 7-0-1) on Saturday continued on track for a repeat state title, defeating Putnam 4-0. Summit was to host fourth-ranked and Special District 1 runner-up Bend (11-2-2, 6-1-1) in the Nov. 12 semifinals.

“They have a lot of quality players and they’re at a different level than the teams we played in conference....,” said Ponce. “They had two really good players that made the difference, number 4 [Shannon Patterson] and number 5 [Hadlie Plummer]. Number 4 was a central midfielder with two-footed ability. She had a huge passing range and she could pass with accuracy with either foot, which made her very difficult to stop. Number 5 was an outside midfielder with great speed....”

Still, the Kingsmen stuck with the Storm for a half, and they trailed only 1-0 at halftime. The floodgates opened after the halftime break, with Summit scoring twice inside the first 10 minutes of the second half to put the game on ice.

Kingsmen

will be back

Looking back on the season, Ponce said, “The girls did better than anticipated. Last year we had a senior dominated team that only made it to the first round [of the state playoffs]. This year we had only one senior, and we made the second round. As quickly as these girls matured, it gives us that much hope for the future.”

The Kingsmen finished the year with an overall record of 7-5-4, after going 5-1-1 and tying Sherwood (10-3-2, 5-1-1) for second place in the NWOC.

NWOC champion Wilsonville (12-3-1, 6-1-0) defeated sixth-ranked Crescent Valley 4-1 on Saturday, earning a spot opposite unheralded Wilson in the semifinals. Putnam dealt the Wildcats their only league loss 1-0 in an Oct. 22 game at Wilsonville.

The Kingsmen should indeed be tough again next year, with the return of everyone but Geist, and the addition of defender Rachel Baker, who sat out this year with a knee injury, after earning first-team all-league recognition last year as a freshman. Geist was the only senior on this year’s squad.

Expected to return are: juniors Sydney Gibbons, Makenzie Maier, Taren Rock, Lindsey Shaw and Madi Kading; sophomores Tiana Swenson, Sydney Nichols, MacKenzie Crowe, Lauren Gilbert and Rachel Baker; and freshmen Maleah Maier, Lauren Rock, Abigail Herbert, Megan Spaulding, Maggie Batz, Karla Herrera and Taylor Stevens.

A three-time first-team all-league selection, Geist was the NWOC Player of the Year in 2012 and again this fall.

Seven other Putnam players received league all-star recognition this fall: Kading, Gilbert, Nichols and Spaulding, for their play on defense; Herbert and Swenson, for their play in the midfield; and Maleah Maier, for her play at forward.

“Losing Bella is a very big blow to the program,” Ponce said. “But getting so many young players so much experience could be just as big a gain for us as losing Bella, if not more.”



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