By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Cascade fought so hard to knot up the game at one-apiece following Brooke Petterson’s goal and to keep a talented North Marion Lady Huskie team off the board for the reminder of the game with their offense coming around.
The offense was finally getting to the Lady Huskies back-line of defense and Faith Craig, Kelsey Molan and the Lady Cougar defense were vintage Cascade defense in shutting down Mar Verastegui and Mya Hammack from handing the lead back to North Marion.
But, as the Cougars were trying to squeak out a win and/or a tie to get one of the automatic bids to the postseason, saw those hopes dash as the Huskies went up one with about three minutes to go.
As they lined up for the restart, there was a lull of doubt as they waited for the whistle to blow.
“I think it turned our minds on to, ‘oh. We need could actually lose this game’,” starts Craig on the vibe of the game after that goal by North Marion. “Because we were tied and we were like, ‘ok, this is comfortable and we just got to keep it here’, and that second one went in and we were like, ‘we need to drive now’.”
When the whistle blew, there was a few seconds that rolled by before something just clicked for the good:
Cascade weren’t going to go down without a fight.
They pushed, got a corner kick and during the scramble for the ball and just mere seconds remaining in the game, the great equalizer by another one of the seniors in Maliah Russell.
“It was the most amazing feeling ever,” said Russell on the goal. “I thought it was going to go over, but when it went in, I was so excited. All my teammates were cheering for me too.”
It just spoke to the character of this team, through all the adversity they’ve been through this season to end this game with a 2-2 tie with the number one team in State in one of the toughest conferences in the State if not the toughest, speaks volumes to the program moving into the postseason.
“I feel like that the seniors are knowing like this could be our last game in we just pushed through,” “This whole season has kind of been odd this year but we were able to finish it off strong and I felt kind of…Skip (Collins) told me to move into the space but I was like, ‘but we’re leaving people back there’.
“But I just listened to him and everyone was aggressive and we were able to get the second goal in, it was the most exciting feeling ever.”
Now, normally finishing third like Cascade did in a conference delegates you to travel somewhere for a play-in game. But, with North Marion being first, Philomath 11th, Cascade 12th, Yamhill-Carlton 13th and Stayton 16th, all five qualify for at least a play-in game.
Of the four playing in a play-in game, the Lady Warriors (versus Astoria) and the Lady Cougs (versus Ontario) are hosting while the Lady Tigers (versus Madras) and Lady Eagles (versus Sutherlin) are traveling for games.
As the games get situated time-wise, this game they just finished could propel them into the bracket yes, but it could too emulate that of the 2014-2015 team that went from play-in team to State Runner-Up.
Could it happen? Yes, but they’re entering the postseason with high confidence as they take lessons learned in this game moving forward.
“We just got to push early instead of push at the end, we just got to push all the way through, we just got to keep it up,” smiled Craig.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald