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Lakeridge nets late winner against Forest Grove

Vikings are denied a state quarterfinal bid with a 2-1 loss to the Pacers in overtime

LAKE OSWEGO — If only this one could have gone to penalty kicks.

The Forest Grove girls soccer team came so close to yet another state playoff upset last Wednesday, only to lose in the most heartbreaking fashion possible.

Playing at No. 8 Lakeridge in the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs, the No. 24 Vikings rallied with a second-half goal to force overtime. But just as the second 10-minute overtime period started to wind down and the match appeared headed for penalties, the Pacers struck on a corner kick to deal Forest Grove a dramatic 2-1 loss.NEWS-TIMES PHOTO: AMANDA MILES
 - Forest Grove senior Kasandra Perdew makes a tackle on Lakeridge's Morgan Kaye during last Wednesday's Class 6A state playoff match.

“We worked until the last minute,” said Veronica Campuzano, who scored for the Vikings. “Unfortunately they got a corner and then finished on it.”

Forest Grove ended one of the best seasons in school history at 10-5-1. The Pacers dropped a 1-0 decision at No. 1 Jesuit on Saturday in the quarterfinals to end their year at 10-2-5.

“I’m happy. I’m proud of these girls. They played fantastic,” Forest Grove coach Jaime Ramos said. “To me, it’s what matters. Winning or losing — can you get better every single time — and I think they did really good things, and I’m proud of them.”

Lakeridge had a bit of the better run in the first half and was rewarded with a goal in the 35th minute, when Natalie Bristol poked a shot past Forest Grove goalkeeper Mayra Pantoja-Palominos from short range.

Needing an equalizer in the second half to keep their season going, the Vikings applied much more pressure to the Pacer goal than they had in the first half, but it took a brilliant strike from Campuzano to tie the match. With the ball at her feet midway through the stanza, the Greater Valley Conference player of the year patiently looked for an opening, and when she found it, she launched a shot from some 35 yards out at goal.

The ball found the upper right corner over Lakeridge keeper Kayla Friesen to give Forest Grove new life.

“It looked like it was out. I was like, ‘Oh, gosh darn it,’ and then I look in the corner and it was inside,” Campuzano said. “I was like, ‘What?’ and I turned around. I was surprised. I didn’t think it was going to go in.”

Both teams had some good looks over the rest of the second half and overtime, but Pantoja-Palominos in particular did well to punch some dangerous balls away from her goal.

But it all came apart with just 1:03 remaining in the second overtime. After the Pacers won a corner kick, Bristol played the ball in on the left side, and senior defender Sophie French rose up in the box for a powerful header into the goal.

The score denied the Vikings a second consecutive state quarterfinals appearance, which they may well have earned had the match gone to penalties. Last year, Forest Grove won two shootouts to make the quarterfinals for the first time in school history.

“One minute away from penalties and our team’s really good at penalties, so we would have done really well,” senior forward Ashton Carow noted.

Though the Vikings were crestfallen that the match turned into their final one this season, it ended another remarkable chapter for the program, particularly the team’s 13 seniors. A number of them have played on varsity since their freshman year. They went 10-15-3 in their first two seasons before going 20-13-1 over their final two and winning four postseason matches — all upsets.

“We just have a really good chemistry, and I think I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else on the field,” Carow said.

The team’s final huddle was an emotional one, especially given that Ramos indicated the match was likely his last as head coach after five seasons. Forest Grove won just one game his first season in 2011, but he has turned the program into a contender despite a relative dearth of club players.

“I was saying goodbye,” Ramos said. “I told them that I made a promise to them that I would leave with the seniors. I was telling them that that was our last run together. I was saying goodbye to the program.”

Campuzano added a little more detail on that conversation.

“He will love us and he’s always going to have us in his heart,” she said of Ramos’ words, “and that he would choose us over any other team.”