With the Portland weather finally turning into heavy rain, the Lincoln girls soccer team ended the 2022-23 regular season with its biggest win of the year in a 2-1 victory over Grant.
The win means that the Cardinals, the Generals and Cleveland all finish with a 5-1 record and will split the Portland Interscholastic League title.
“It’s amazing,” said Lincoln coach Lainey Hulsizer. “We started this program and we’ve had a wonderful time with the kids and all the wanted was to send them off with a win today. So it feels amazing. It’s such good momentum going into playoffs known that we can take down the reigning state champ, knowing that we can be a top five team. Though I always knew it. But it’s nice to show the state that we’re here.”
The win is probably the biggest of the year for the Cardinals, who are heading into the postseason having not lost a game since Oct. 4.
“We’ve been working for this game all season and I think, as we saw that there, that was our goal for the season. Win league. Beat Grant. You know, they’re former state champs and a great team,” Junior Alana Harry said.
The Cardinals scored their first goal of the night on a corner kick from Harry, who sent the ball in towards the goal. It was hit by Grant’s Paige Nakada for an own goal.
At 66 minutes, Harry put the Cardinals up 2-0 with a shot from the top of the box. Grant goalkeeper Lucy Kapranos hit it, but it rolled between her legs and into the goal.
“I just found myself in some space and took the shot,” Harry said. “I didn’t feel like it was a great shot, but at the same time I feel like we create our own luck and we deserved some luck there.”
The Generals dominated most of the ball possession in the second half, but were unable to fully capitalize.
At 70 minutes, Olivia Lukrofka finally got Grant on the board with a shot from 25 yards out that went right over the head of the goalkeeper.
Lukrofka had another couple of looks at goal late in the game, but the Generals were not able to tie it up.
The win marks a chaotic few days for Lincoln, who played to a 3-3 draw with Lake Oswego (No. 7 in the OSAA computer rankings on Tuesday night).
“Lake Oswego was a great test,” Hulsizer said. “And I told the girls, I said, ‘This is technically a preseason match. Play like you’re not afraid to lose.’ And they came out. It was a great game versus Lake Oswego. And I think we just kind of carried that into this game.”
With games against the Lakers and the Generals to end the regular season, Hulsizer said the Cardinals are ready to make waves in the playoffs.
The game marks the first league loss for the Generals since the spring 2021 season (also against Lincoln). For Tjuanakis, the errors in the game were what stings the most.
“Obviously, I don’t like to lose a game,” Tjuanakis said. “But I don’t like the way we lost the game because both goals were mistakes of ours.”
But as a team, Tjuanakis said he was happy with the way the Generals were able to stay in the game.
“I will just take the second half that we played. I think that was very good,” Tjuanakis said. “I thought we created tons of chances.”
Grant was without starting goalkeeper Michaela McCollum, who was on the bench with a boot on. Eve Skelly started the night in the goal for the Generals. The second half saw Kapranos, a freshman who played junior varsity all season, take over in the goal.
Without McCollum, who is committed to play soccer collegiately at Gonzaga, Tjuanakis said the Generals are missing her level of stability in the goal. He added that McCollum’s presence gives the team more confidence on defense — which has been their bread and butter all season.
Tjuanakis said he expects to have McCollum back in action for the postseason.
“It’s not as severe an injury that it could have been,” he said. “And she actually wanted to play today, but I told her no because I think there are some bigger things to come.”
— Nik Streng, email@example.com, @NikStreng
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