WARRENTON - The postgame birthday cake and Rice Krispy treats eased the pain of a 2-2 tie with Rainier, but the Astoria girls soccer team couldn't help but think of what might have been.
Astoria held a 2-1 lead with just four minutes remaining in Monday's contest with Rainier at the Lower Columbia Youth complex, when the Columbians' Becca Roth scored on a short-range shot to tie the contest.
You win some, you lose some. And in soccer, you tie a lot. Now 1-1-1 on the season, the Fishermen will take it as another lesson learned and move on.
"We'll learn from this," said first-year Astoria coach Jim Flint. "We had a few little tactical lapses, but other than that, we were within four minutes of winning the game. I'm just real pleased with the way we're playing. We're 1-1-1, and I'm pleased with the play."
The most important thing - Flint has the program moving in the right direction. In years past, two wins in three games would have been unheard of.
"Their confidence level is picking up and they're playing like it," Flint said. "Janae (Poe) and Maia (Fastabend) both had bad colds but played the whole game, so we have players who - even though they're not completely fit - are willing to step up and do the best they can."
According to Flint, his team was "sleep walking" in the first 15 minutes of the first half, and it showed.
The Columbians controlled the ball and scored in the sixth minute on a goal by Amber Samples.
Astoria started to turn the momentum in the 15th minute, as Fastabend, Becky Caccavano and Melissa Law all had solid shots on goal which were turned away by Rainier keeper Megan Benson.
The Fishermen finally found the net in the 37th minute of the first half. A shot by Law deflected off the right post, but teammate Shelly Gregory was there for the follow, pushing it past Benson to tie the game.
Astoria grabbed a 2-1 lead in the 58th minute, when Fastabend lobbed a crossing pass just in front of the goal, where Marlie Cokley headed it into the net.
"Marlie was in the right place at the right time," Flint said. "I was so proud of her, because heading the ball is not one of the things that we've worked on a lot."
The Fishermen nearly scored minutes later on a similar play, but Benson smothered the ball just outside the mouth of the goal.
Rainier had several opportunities in the final minutes, finally converting on Roth's goal to tie the game.
"You're always disappointed when you're within four minutes of winning a game," Flint said. "But on the other hand, that's what happens when you have two teams that are evenly paired. Call it fate or luck ... whatever you want to call it, it's just one of those things."