The La Center Wildcats dominated the Columbia-White Salmon Bruins 6-1 at home on Tuesday. The win kept the Wildcats (7-0 in Trico, 9-4 overall) in the top of the 1A Trico bracket as the team remains undefeated in league heading into the final week of the regular season.
“The last four years we’ve been finishing second to King’s Way (Christian) in league,” Head Coach Matt Cone said about the Wildcats. “This year, these girls have been working hard on the basic drills, staying focused on the game and building the chemistry of a team.”
Cone said building team chemistry has been the biggest struggle for the program over the last couple of years. Along with Assistant Coach Jon Groom, he said the program is being built from the junior varsity level up to create better soccer teams.
The game on Tuesday started rough for the Wildcats as the Bruins scored a goal 6 minutes and 30 seconds into the match and kept La Center from scoring for over 15 minutes.
“We started out flat. We came in thinking something different and we gave up an easy goal,” Cone said. “We changed a couple of tactics and it kind of just changed the offense for us.”
After a few missed shots on goal in the first half, La Center senior forward Kaiya Villines scored with just over 17 minutes left in the half. Following the first goal, the Wildcats would keep the ball in the offensive zone the rest of the game and hold the Bruins to that single early score.
La Center went into halftime up 3-1 with sophomore Emma Seter and senior Katie Nelson also scoring goals in the first 40 minutes.
“I was thinking about the game all day because it's a big one,” Villines said. “Like our coach has been saying, we have to go through every game like we’re not in first, and take it one game at a time. This morning, I was thinking tonight was going to be my night and I put it forward.”
Villines was right about Tuesday being her night as she scored her second goal of the evening less than five minutes into the first half. Following a few missed shots and defensive plays, junior forward Emma Jarvi put the ball in the back of the net in the first minutes of the second half. Senior midfielder Katie Nelson scored the final goal of the night with just over 13 minutes left of play.
The win brought happiness to senior forward and team captain Aquinnah “Qinn” Wiseman, one of the team’s most dynamic players. Wiseman, who watched from the sidelines, was injured earlier this season in a game against King’s Way Christian.
“I’m trying to stay positive, support one another,” Wiseman said. “It’s cool, I have a new perspective that I’ve never gotten to experience. I see things on the field that I haven’t had the opportunity to see. I’ve always been really passionate about helping others and now I just have to use my love for the game and endure it in others. I'm gonna be the hype man and I’m super excited to help my team in any way I can.”
Cone said the Wildcats are taking the rest of the season “one game at a time” as the postseason looks promising.
“At every practice we are kind of holding a self evaluation,” Cone said. “We can't be practicing at a five, we need to be practicing at an eight or nine.”
La Center looks to play their biggest rival, King’s Way Christian, at home tomorrow, Oct. 24. Next week, they will play Stevenson at home on Tuesday, Oct. 29, and then finish off the season on Thursday, Oct. 31, in Castle Rock.