The third time was certainly a charm for the Crescent Valley High girls soccer team.
In each of the past two seasons, the Raiders saw their season come to an end in the semifinals of the 5A state playoffs.
With a third opportunity at hand, the Raiders made sure to not let history repeat itself.
Cali McClave and Amelia Wilson scored less than four minutes apart midway through the first half and the No. 10-seeded Raiders held off a furious comeback attempt by West Albany in the second half to advance to the state title game with a 2-1 win over the No. 3 Bulldogs on Tuesday night.
“It is such a great feeling,” CV junior midfielder Claire Macy. “The last three years we’ve made it to the semifinals and this year we finally made it. I owe it all to the team and coaches. We worked together and played for each other and we just did it.”
While the Raiders were celebrating, the Bulldogs (12-3-2) could only watch as their season came to an end.
“Sure it’s disappointing to end your season but I told them if you have to end a season and it’s a game away from the championship, playing great soccer, that’s the way you do it,” West coach Erik Ihde said.
The Raiders (10-4-2) will take on No. 4 seed Churchill at 1 p.m. in Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday. Churchill advanced in a penalty shootout against No. 8 seed Corvallis.
Crescent Valley, which has now won three playoff games on the road — all by 2-1 scores — had numerous opportunities to get on the board first but couldn’t find the back of the net.
McClave, who was off a few minutes earlier on a free kick, connected on her next opportunity as she perfectly placed the ball just over the outstretched arms of West goalkeeper Cammie Lien for the 1-0 lead in the 22nd minute.
“I’ve been working on those in practice and I missed the first one right before that so I was just telling myself I shouldn’t miss the second one,” McClave said.
It wasn't long after when Wilson broke free and found some space for a 2-0 lead in the 26th minute.
“It was really big,” McClave said of the two goals. “That really helped our momentum and we came in really confident and I think that just reassured us a little bit.”
The Raiders appeared headed to the half with a comfortable two-goal advantage, but a foul with under 30 seconds left gave the Bulldogs life.
Bethanie Marteeny took advantage and buried a shot in the right side of the net with 14 seconds left to cut the Bulldogs’ deficit to 2-1.
“We played some really, really good soccer in the first half. I was really impressed with how we played. I thought we should have gotten more. We were just bossing the game,” CV coach Blake Leamy said.
“Then the last 14 seconds we got a little breakdown mentally and that kind of opened up the door for them. But this group has been pretty hard mentally all year and they didn’t panic. We knew we were going to be fine and (West) played much better in the second half and made it harder for us but the first half we were fantastic.”
The Bulldogs made it exciting in the last 10 or so minutes but ultimately could not get the equalizer.
“It was super stressful,” CV junior goalkeeper Peyton Dale said. “It was a pretty messy second half but I had a feeling in the end we were going to get it because we’re pretty good at fighting through.”
Ihde said he was proud of the way his team kept fighting to the end.
“I felt like when we got down 2-0 we could have folded it up a bit and the opposite happened,” he said. “I felt like our best soccer came in the second half. … It’s a testament to what these girls have done all year. The character that they’ve shown has been tremendous. I feel like at times they just overachieved and exceeded the coaches’ expectations.”
While the Bulldogs’ season has ended, CV gets one more game.
“I’m so excited, I can’t even put it into words,” McClave said.