For the first 35 minutes Friday night, the Crescent Valley High girls soccer team struggled to get into a flow.
Visiting Ridgeview was controlling the midfield and putting a lot of pressure on the Raiders’ defense.
Then Emma Smith connected with Cali McClave, who buried a shot in the lower left-hand corner, and just like that the Raiders had a 1-0 lead heading into the half.
“I just saw it coming over my head and I had to put it in,” McClave said.
It was the spark the Raiders needed, and thanks to another McClave goal with just under 20 minutes to play, the Raiders earned a second straight trip to the 5A semifinals with a 2-0 win over the Ravens at Field of Dreams.
No. 3 seed CV (14-0-1) will await the winner of Saturday’s quarterfinal between No. 7 Corvallis and No. 2 Summit.
CV coach Blake Leamy said the first goal was the turning point.
“It was huge,” he said. “I think it was the first time all year where we had a little bit of self-doubt. You could see it a little bit, body language and stuff. I think going through that is going to help us next game because they know we’ve got the ability to come through and pull it out.”
McClave agreed: “It was just a big lift for me, honestly, too, because I feel like we came out slow and didn’t know what we were doing, we didn’t have any rhythm and I think that helped us pick it up. That was a starting point for us.”
Leamy allowed the players to talk among themselves the first part of the half, and liked the way they sorted some things out themselves.
“They got it figured out and then we kind of gave them a little bit more pieces, tacticly, to work on and really the second half they didn’t give us too many problems,” he said. “We were all over them. Pretty pleased with the effort.”
McClave nearly gave the Raiders a 2-0 lead in the 57th minute when she appeared to have scored on a corner kick. The Raiders bench wanted a hand ball, if not a goal, but it was waved off.
“From my stance, that was totally in because that was a cool header,” McClave said with a laugh. “But honestly it didn’t affect me that much. I know it rattled them and it was like we’re going to get another one and not long after I got another one.”
She did, thanks to second and third effort.
McClave and her teammates had noticed the Ridgeview keeper was a bit shaky securing shots on goal.
So she kept the pressure on in the 61st minute and it paid off as she was able to put in a loose ball the keeper couldn’t collect and made it 2-0.
“She’s an amazing athlete,” Leamy said of McClave, who had two assists in the win over St. Helens on Tuesday. “She’s been getting to be a really good soccer player so it’s been really fun to watch her grow and grow in a leadership role a little bit. Sometimes she has the ability, just as an athlete, to basically dominate things and I think she dominated in the box. Really proud of her.”
The Raiders know they need to play better from the start on Tuesday, no matter who they face.
“I think we’ve won so many games that we are just kind of used to showing up and winning and you can’t do that now,” Leamy said.
Added McClave: “I’m excited and the team is excited and we have a lot of confidence now after this game.”