The Lebanon Warriors girls soccer team headed to the state playoffs. The Warriors faced Summit High School in Bend for the first round of the state playoff on Halloween. The results of that match were not available by press time.
The tournament birth is the first time the Lady Warriors have made the round of 16 since Ryan Christner took over a winless program eight years ago.
The Warriors earned the state tournament spot by defeating the Springfield Millers 3-1 during a play in game on Oct. 28. The Warriors kept the pressure up throughout game by driving the ball upfield, and taking shots inside the 18-yard box.
This led the Warriors to earn two goals in the first half, and shut out the Millers before halftime. In that first half, the Millers matched the Warriors on shots taken, but they couldn’t drive the ball.
Taking shots closer caused gave the Warriors the 2-0 advantage, Christner said.
“We were inside the 18-yard-box, (and facing) one vs. one with their goalie, while they’re shooting from distance,” Christner said. “We put pressure on their shooters, and really it’s just class and composure. These girls just showed that today.”
Execution is a huge difference maker in playoff games, he said adding that he was "super proud" of his team's performance.
Since Christner has taken over head coaching duties, the girls soccer team has earned a couple of home play in matches, but the Warriors squandered those opportunities.
“We get unlucky, miss a lot of chances,” Christner said of the previous play in matches.
Last Saturday, the Warriors made sure they did not miss their shot starting with freshman Quinn Shepard striking first for the Warriors in the 24th minute scoring on a breakaway drive that started just past left midfield and dribbled the ball all the way into the goal box and putted the ball in cleanly past Miller’s keeper Vanessa Conklin.
Warriors forward Kelsey Palmer challenged Conklin on another breakaway drive shooting just inside the goal box. Palmer was was fouled by by their keeper inside the box to earn Palmer up a penalty kick.
"I knew that she was faster than me so I knew that I need to take a step in front of her in order to score," Palmer said of the play that earned the penalty kick. "Then just knowing from experience that if I do that, and I don’t get the shot in, the only reason would be because she’d have to foul me."
On the PK, Alyssa Babcock, ran forward, and just smashed the ball down the center challenging their goalie and the ball sailed past her for Lebanon's second score.
Palmer concurred with her coach that her team played harmoniously throughout the match.
“In the past we have not done so well in the play in games,” Palmer said. “I don’t think we do so well under pressure, but we played through that, and we were playing strong from the first whistle to the last. I’m just really proud of my team."
Paige Wombacher earned Lebanon's insurance goal against the Millers in the second half scoring coming off of a corner kick.
While the Millers were forced to take shots from farther out, the Millers kept the Warriors’ defense busy as keeper Ana Von Ruden earned 10 saves. Von Ruden nearly earned her fifth clean sheet for Lebanon, but after 11 shots on goal the Millers were finally able to score against the Warriors Stellar defense in the 85th minute.
With the 3-1 lead, and the clock ticking away, the Warriors just needed to run the clock out to ensure a the state tournament, and the Warriors were able to keep possesion for the final minutes of the game.