High school soccer reached its end this year in Plumas County when the Chester Volcanoes edged out the Portola Tigers the evening of Oct. 29 in the Feather River League championship match.
For a good portion of the game, it looked like Portola had a better chance of winning than Chester. The Tigers were ahead for 55 minutes of play. In the second half, however, Chester came back to take it all.
“Oh man,” proclaimed Portola’s coach, Thomas Cormany. “That was a big game, just such an emotional rollercoaster.”
Chester’s coach, Eric O’Kelley, concurred with Cormany, saying the game was one of those games that exemplifies how great the sport is. Before the match started, O’Kelley warned his team of Portola’s determination.
“I had to remind the girls that Portola isn’t here to lose. They’re good enough to win and they want it. They’re hungry. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain, and that’s a dangerous team.”
Portola started the match out with a defense that halted Chester’s offense and an offense that broke through Chester’s defense. The ball was on Portola’s side for most of the first half, but it didn’t matter. Portola’s goalkeeper, Lizzy Swing, deflected one attempt after another from Chester.
About 15 minutes into play, Portola made its move. The Tigers drove the ball into Chester’s territory and Katia Santana knocked it into the Volcanoes’ net for Portola’s first and only goal of the game. Both teams held each other off for the rest of the half.
“We went back and forth, but couldn’t get the equalizer,” O’Kelley commented on being behind at the half.
Chester came out strong in the second half and kept control of the ball for most of the remaining play. The Volcanoes finally scored a goal to tie it up, but it wasn’t to their credit.
One of Chester’s girls took a shot at Portola’s goal. Swing dove for it, but it was out of her reach. Lucky for Portola, the ball hit the left upright and bounced off to sit in front of the goal. The area was rather crowded when a Portola defender, coming in to assist, accidentally knocked the ball in her team’s own goal.
Chester took advantage of the tie and quickly began to work on a win. With about 20 minutes left, Lanee Hansen chipped the ball over to Miranda Lemons who drove it up the field and knocked one in the upper left side of the goal to give Chester the lead.
This marks the sixth year since Portola’s girls soccer team last beat Chester’s.
“To come back from being behind 1-0 at the half was such a great way to end the season,” said O’Kelley. “This season was really good. All the teams in the league got stronger, and to Portola’s credit, they played hard enough and good enough to win.”