Girls soccer: Malia Groshong’s overtime brace seals Valley Catholic’s comeback win over Catlin Gabel in 3A/2A/1A title game

Despite falling behind early, Valley Catholic’s girls soccer team came alive in overtime in the Class 3A/2A/1A girls soccer state championship game on Saturday at Liberty High School. The Valiants scored three overtime goals, led by a late brace by Malia Groshong to win the state championship in a 4-1 victory over Catlin Gabel.

“I’m just extremely happy,” Groshong said after Saturday’s game. “I couldn’t have done it without my team so we’re just really excited.”

This is the fourth time the Valiants are bringing home a Class 3A/2A/1A state championship. It’s the first state championship for Valiant coach Morgan Fry, who is in her first year with the school and in her first year coaching high school girls soccer. Prior to this fall, Fry was a strength and conditioning coach. She said her background in strength and conditioning helped ensure that the Valiants were able to play at a high level even as the game reached its 100th minute.

“We hit the weight room from day one,” Fry said. “When I came in, that was a big goal of mine that I wanted to bring in. So we kept that consistent there in season training. And it proved today.”

Catlin Gabel came into Saturday as the two-time defending Class 3A/2A/1A state champions. The Eagles have won 15 titles, more than any other team in Oregon.

The Eagles struck about as early as they could on Saturday morning. Thirty seconds into the game, Catlin Gabel drew a corner kick. Campbell Swaim sent the corner kick towards the goal, and it was tapped in by Pia Patrikson just 45 seconds into the contest for a 1-0 lead.

Valley Catholic did not allow the lead to snowball in the first half, though. The Valiants battled for position and made sure the game remained 1-0 at halftime. This included a shot by Groshong at the 12-minute mark that hit the crossbar and drew a roar from the Valley Catholic crowd.

Valley Catholic tied the game up at 54 minutes as the Valiants drew a corner kick. Calista Everson took the kick from the right corner, bending it around the goal keeper and another defender as it sailed into the goal untouched.

The Valiants controlled the pace of play better in the second half, but were unable to take the lead during regulation. Groshong had another highlight miss in the final seconds of the half as she stole the ball and sent a shot on goal just wide left as the buzzer sounded.

At 86 minutes, Elizabeth Louie sent a ball in from 40 yards out. The shot bounced off the hands of the Catlin Gabel goalkeeper and into the goal to give the Valiants a lead in overtime.

In the second overtime period, Groshong came alive and sealed the win for Valley Catholic. At 93 minutes, freshman Haven Zaw-Tun made a run at the goal that was saved. But Groshong snagged the rebound and scored with ease. With less than a minute left on the clock, Groshong scored off a corner kick to make it 4-1.

“She is a phenomenal athlete to watch,” Fry said of Groshong. “Very versatile. I know I can put her in any position and she thrives.”

Saturday’s game was the third matchup between the two teams, with Catlin Gabel winning both previous meetings (5-2 on Aug. 26 and 2-1 on Sept. 15).

“We’ve played them twice before and we just knew that they were going to come in hot and we were just like, we’re got to match that energy,” Groshong said.

Fry said Saturday’s game included a mirrored deja vu, where Valley Catholic had previously taken an early 1-0 lead on the Eagles and lost. She said having situations like that early in the season prepared the Valiants so they could be confident coming into Saturday’s game.

“We prepared film-wise. We’ve prepared conditioning. The physical, definitely the mental.” Fry said. “We’ve done a lot of mental building with them as a team and as individuals and that relayed and portrayed 1000% to this game.”

And while the Valiants have proven to be a force this fall, they are still a young team with multiple freshmen playing key positions. Groshong said team chemistry is what has helped Valley Catholic stay composed in high-pressure situations like Saturday’s game.

“We just trust each other,” Groshong said. “I would put my life on all of them. We have each other’s back.”

And one of those freshmen on the team, Madison Groshong, happens to be Malia Groshong’s younger sister, making the championship a little more special.

“She’s like my best friend,” Groshong said.

— Nik Streng,, @NikStreng

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