Columbia High girls soccer is back in the Southwest District’s Class 1A playoffs after a three-year hiatus.
The Bruins (14-3) beat the Seton Catholic Cougars, 4-2, Tuesday night in Bruin Stadium, in the first girls soccer playoff match every hosted by CHS. The play-in victory sends the Trico League’s No. 2 team to Kalama today for a first-round match against Rochester, the No. 1 seed out of the rival Ever-green League, that kicks off at 5 p.m.
Win or lose, Columbia will play again Saturday afternoon in Kalama for one of the district’s three berths in this year’s WIAA state tournament.
Tuesday night, the Bruins broke up a scoreless match in the 27th minute when junior forward Sofia Turner got the ball on the right wing and drilled a liner between the near post and Seton’s goalkeeper.
Senior midfielder Caitlin Scott made it 2-nil in the 47th minute with a dead-on shot from 18 yards.
Scott got the Bruins on the scoreboard 11 minutes into the second half when she converted a penalty kick. An assisted goal by sophomore forward Bethany Putnam in the 55th minute gave CHS a seemingly insurmountable four-goal advantage.
The Cougars gamely battled back, though. They scor-ed on a breakaway in the 59th minute, then cut the lead to 4-2 with a set piece that resulted in a header off a corner kick in the 73rd minute.
Columbia 6, at Stevenson 0: Bethany Putnam scored the first two goals of her varsity career on Oct. 28 to help lead the Bruins past the Bulldogs.
Putnam scored unassisted in the 34th minute, then finished off a set-up by junior midfielder Savannah Story in the 39th minute to send Columbia into the intermission with a commanding 5-0 advantage.
Sophomore midfielder Ai-dan Liddiard got the Bruins going in the seventh minute when she netted a goal off a Story assist. Junior forward Katherine Childs made it 2-0 five minutes later when her shot deflected off the Stevenson keeper and into the goal. Childs turned playmaker in the 26th minute and set up a scoring shot by Sofia Terner.
The score remained 5-0 until the 59th minute, when sophomore forward Claire Anderson scored unassisted on a breakaway.
For the match, the Bruins received five corner kicks and put 37 shots on goal; 13 of those shots resulted in Steve-nson keeper saves. Stevenson attempted no corner kicks and registered just one shot on goal, which came in the second half.
“We didn’t have the best accuracy,” Bruins Coach Amy Kasenga said, “but at the same time, we had a lot of second-half shots.” Columbia peppered the Stevenson goal with 19 shots after the intermission. Most of them (eight) came from senior defender Kylene Olin, whose teammates worked hard to get her the ball for a chance to score a goal in her senior season.
Much of the second-half action occurred in Stevenson’s half of the field. Kasenga said the Bruins put the time and field position to good use.
“We were working on our creativity, encouraging the girls to become more creative in their playmaking, and stronger with their finishes,” Kasenga noted.
La Center 2, at Columbia 1: The visiting Wildcats tallied the tiebreaking goal in the 76th minute off a direct kick from 28 yards en route to the Oct. 29 Trico League victory. The scoring shot that followed a handball call on CHS was La Center’s only shot on goal in the second half.
“It was one of those games where the best team on the field was not winning the game,” Kasenga said. “We didn’t play poorly, we just didn’t play our speed. The effort was good, but our intensity was not consistent throughout the match.”
La Center needed a win to keep its bid for a district play-in berth alive, so it had extra motivation. The Bruins had already clinched a berth and were looking to finish the regular season with a victory.
Columbia took a 1-0 lead in the fourth minute when Savannah Story scored off an assist from senior midfielder Caitlin Scott.
The goal buoyed the Bruins “but we settled in and relaxed much too early, and La Center didn’t.”
La Center tallied the tying goal in the 32nd minute with one of its seven first-half shots on goal.
CHS put 10 shots on goal in the first half and 12 in the second, received six direct kicks and four corner kicks overall, and tried one penalty kick, but couldn’t find the back of the net again.
“We were not very accurate in our shooting,” Kasenga said. “We missed a penalty kick in the second half near the 70th minute that hit the crossbar, then we turned the ball over to La Center when one of our players touched the ball before a defender did.”