Featured Stories

Questions abound as Metro teams prep for 2012

Sunsets boys are the favorites, but lots of challengers are lining up already


Simply the best.

The Metro League was all that and more in boys soccer in 2011, but whether that will again be the case in 2012 remains to be seen.

Sure, the Metro will likely be the state’s best league again this year, but the league’s top teams — including 2011 state champ Westview and perennial power (and 2011 quarterfinalist) Jesuit — saw several of their best players leave to join the new Timbers Academy teams, and those departures will almost certainly play a role in this year’s final standings.

That said, 2011 league champion Sunset is once again expected to be the favorite.

READY TO BATTLE - Southridge senior Tom Peterson (left) and Westview junior Hunter Pinson plan on leading their teams to the playoffs again in 2012.

“Sunset is loaded again. Although they have a new coach, it should not affect them much in their ability to do very well in the league,” said Aloha coach Eric Wise. “They have a very skilled players at each position and will be the team to beat in the league.”

“I think Sunset will do well this year,” agreed Beaverton coach Ryan Youngblood. “They have a strong pool of players with a quality coach to lead them.”

“Sunset has by far the best squad in the league, if not the state,” added Jesuit coach Chris Thurley.

After the Apollos, however, the league will see battles between Westview, 2010 state runner-up Beaverton, 2011 quarterfinalists Jesuit and Southridge, and up-and-coming Aloha too.

“Beaverton will be strong, and it is always a mistake to not include Jesuit in the ... picture,” said Westview coach Tom Lathrop. And “Southridge and Aloha will be up for the challenge this year without a doubt. The Metro League is always so tough to call as anything can happen on any given night. The league is very much up for grabs.”

“I think Beaverton, Aloha and Jesuit will battle for the two remaining spots,” Wise said. “Jesuit did lose five players to the Timbers Academy, but they have a good talent pool that will step up to the new opportunity they have been given.”

Following are previews of the Metro League’s six varsity boys soccer teams.

ALOHA

ALOHA — Aloha didn’t win much of anything in 2011.

The Warriors went 0-10 vs. some of the state’s best teams in Metro play, but a closer look at Aloha’s efforts shows that the team was still very competitive.

Five of those league losses came by single goals, and those modest successes have laid the foundation for what the Warriors hope is ahead in 2012.

“We started building for this two years ago by placing 12 sophomores on varsity with the hopes that they would develop ... and have a successful season this year as seniors,” said Aloha coach Eric Wise. “We feel that this year could be special and we’re looking to finish in the top half of the league.”

This year’s team will be led by senior goalkeeper Jorge Rodriguez (a second-team all-leaguer in 2011), senior defender Edgar Rivera and junior midfielder Alex Garcia.

“Edgar brings a sense of maturity to the back line this season. He does a good job of keeping the players composed and focused,” Wise said, adding that Rodriguez’s “confidence in the net brings confidence to the rest of the players,” while Garcia — back from a 2011 injury — “brings speed and an aggressive style to the flanks.”

Other returners are senior keeper Ricardo Miguel, senior defenders Ethan Klein and Alvaro Flores, senior midfielder Nate Ashby, senior midfielder Ismael Lopez, senior defender Franklin Cordon, senior midfielder Fernando Olayo, senior forward Jovani Tellez, and junior forward Gilberto Arreola, a transfer from Century.

New to the team are junior midfielder Omar Gonzalez, freshman forward Strahinja Djurdjevic, sophomore midfielder Junior Cordon, sophomore defender Juan Ramirez, senior forward Gustavo Mendoza, junior defender Alexis Gonzales, junior midfielder Cris Romero, senior defender Hector Paniagua, junior defender Uriel Bernal, and senior defender Jose Nambo.

BEAVERTON

BEAVERTON — The potential is there this year at Beaverton.

But whether that potential translates into wins is the question that will shape Beaverton’s 2012 fortunes.

“I think the boys will do OK with the potential to do well,” said Beaverton coach Ryan Youngblood. “It all depends on how quickly they can adjust to the varsity level and gel.”

While the Beavers don’t return an all-league player, they do have a fair bit of experience — talented varsity experience — back from a year ago, led by senior defender Luke Brocker, junior midfielder/forward Ian Coleman, junior midfielder/forward Diego Ramirez and junior midfielder Seth Temple.

Brocker “will lead the defense. He is an athletic player who is very strong in the air and good at (one on one) defending,” Youngblood said, adding that Coleman, Temple and Ramirez “will lead the attack. All are very technical players that should be able to create good opportunities.”

There’s more talent on hand too, including junior goalkeepers Mons Roll and Dyllon Carlson, and sophomore midfielder Abel Guzman.

Guzman “will take the lead in the center of the park. He is very good on the ball and can slot players through to create the attack,” Youngblood said.

The rest of this year’s lineup will include sophomore defender Joel Belsterling, junior defender Nico Maier, junior forward Alonso Bautista, junior defender Devon McJacobs, senior forward Manny Romero, junior midfielder Patrick Wild, senior midfielder Jesus Delorenza, senior forward Collin Muniz and senior defender Gaelen Murry.

We have “the potential to do well, but we are a young team this year with mostly juniors with limited varsity experience,” Youngblood added.

JESUIT

BEAVERTON — All things being equal to a year ago, Jesuit would have been the odds-on favorite to win or at least challenge for the 2012 Metro title.

The Crusaders may still do just that, but their task was made much more difficult by the launch of the Timbers Academy teams this year, all-star teams associated with the Portland Timbers that claimed five players who would otherwise have competed for Jesuit.

Still, the Crusaders are conceding nothing for 2012.

“We lost five players to the Timbers,” said Jesuit coach Chris Thurley. But “we’re working extremely hard in training, harder than any team I’ve had in 22 years. We need to continue working hard and have a few breaks fall our way.”

That said, the Crusaders will have just two all-leaguers available this year — senior midfielder Brian DeGrandmont and junior midfielder Christo Michaelson (both 2011 second-teamers) — while fellow all-leaguers Cameron Chesnutt and Chris Chertude left to play for the Timbers.

Thurley said that DeGrandmont, Michaelson and senior defender Matt Nachreiner will be the team’s top players in 2012, joined by varsity returners including senior defender Sean Justus, senior defender Shane Richards, junior midfielder Ulyl Acevedo, junior midfielder Charlie Chimento and sophomore midfielder Spencer Scott.

“Right now, if we were offered a top-three berth, I would take it in a heartbeat,” Thurley said. “It’s a year of change and hard work, with plenty of coaching.”

Also on the 2012 varsity roster are senior forward Zach Caballero, senior defenders Andy Buhler and Tom Wise, junior goalkeeper/midfielder John Melito, junior keeper James Wisniewski, junior forwards Chase Boone and Sahil Doshi, junior midfielder Tyler Street, sophomore defender Essam Nicola, sophomore midfielder Henry Rocker, and sophomore defender Pierce Baldocci.

SOUTHRIDGE

BEAVERTON — Change is the name of the game at Southridge this year.

The Skyhawks welcome veteran Mike Davis (previously the longtime coach at Catlin Gabel) as interim head coach and 13 new varsity players, but the team still hopes to recreate some of the magic of 2011.

A year ago, Southridge went just 2-7-1 in league play, but then battled all the way to the state quarterfinals before finally losing 1-0 to eventual state champion Westview.

“While we have nine seniors and six juniors on the squad, most of them have (come up) from last year’ s JV team,” said Davis, whose Catlin Gabel teams won 10 state crowns during his tenure. “Their success will depend on how well they compete and come together to meet much tougher opposition than they have been used to.”

This year’s Skyhawk roster doesn’t include an all-leaguer, but will be led by its five varsity returners — senior midfielder Tom Peterson, junior defender Kyle Gillan, sophomore midfielder David Peterson, senior midfielder Aaron Freeman, and senior forward Jackson Wold.

Peterson “is a strong and skillful central player who will anchor the middle of the field,” Davis said, adding that “the defense will be anchored by Gillan, supported by JT Shields, Stephen Wood, Scott Lantz and Evan Leendertse.”

Other scoring threats in addition to Peterson will be senior forward Tanner Holland, senior forward Jose Cruz, senior forward Wold, senior midfielder Freeman, junior forward Matt Kimball and sophomore midfielder Gen Kimura.

Alongside Gillan in the back will be seniors Shield and Wood, and juniors Lantz and Leendertse. Senior Mario Simone and freshmen Pedro Simonetti will get the call in goal. Other newcomers will be junior midfielder Omar Cuarenta, senior midfielder Ali Cheffan and junior midfielder Andrew Agnesse.

SUNSET

CEDAR MILL — In 2011, Sunset did something that very few Metro League teams not named Jesuit or Westview ever get to do — the Apollos broke through to win the league title.

In 2012, Sunset is back without 2011 Coach of the Year (the now-departed Joe Wentworth) and without team leaders Alcides Thomas and Jordan White, but plans on finishing on top of the league again nonetheless.

“Our expectation is to compete for the Metro League title,” said Sunset’s first-year coach Tor Southard, a former player at Sprague and later University of Portland “We expect to be there in the end and look forward to competing in playoffs.”

This year’s Apollo team will be led by the talented quintet of junior goalkeeper Bernard Palma, senior midfielder Chris Laidlaw, senior defender/midfielder Eric Zechenelly, senior midfielder Louis Tanguy, and senior midfielder Andrew Dorn (a second-team all-leaguer in 2011).

Palma’s “strength is shot stopping and communication,” Southard said, adding that Laidlaw brings “strength, distribution and vision,” while Zechenelly adds “intensity (and the ability to shut) down opposing players.”

Also back from last year’s state quarterfinalist are senior defender Pete Cooper, junior defender Joe DeCesaro, and senior midfielders Henry King and Oliver King. New to the varsity roster are junior forward Erick Moreno, junior defender/midfielder Garrett Back, junior forward Adrian Martinez, junior defender Steven Rogers, junior defender Chris Graves, junior midfielder Brandon Guerrero, junior midfielder Kai Sakamoto, senior keeper Christopher Constans, senior forward Rikely Buckingham, senior forward Diego Trujillo and senior defender Mason Crow.

The “key to success is consistency and staying healthy,” Southard added. “I believe the competition for the league title is wide open.”

WESTVIEW

ROCK CREEK — Westview’s boys soccer program, long one of Oregon’s best, reached its nadir in 2011, winning the first state championship in school history.

But to say the Wildcats were hit hard by graduation is akin to saying that tornadoes like to hit trailer parks — it’s true but it still doesn’t quite convey the magnitude of the thing.

Westview graduated 17 seniors (including four all-leaguers) from last year’s state champion — including Metro and Oregon Player of the Year Jaime Velasco — and also lost three varsity players to Timbers Academy teams. Despite all that, the Wildcats say they’re ready to compete with the Metro League’s best once again.

“Our team will compete with conviction every game this year, and I am betting we will surprise a few teams,” said Westview coach Tom Lathrop.

This year, the Wildcats will look for leadership to its three captains, senior defender Brandon Wick, senior defender Wayne Xun, and junior midfielder Hunter Pinson.

Wick provides “leadership and a shut-down defender,” Lathrop said, adding that Xun is a “great organizer in the back and a tough tackler,” while Pinson is a “dangerous midfielder with size, great feet and a talent for scoring.”

While the team’s other three varsity returners left to join the Timbers, there’s still talent throughout the roster including: senior midfielders Paul Jang and Joey Tovares; senior defender Kevin Smith; senior goalkeeper Danny Osburn; junior midfielder/forward Alfredo Valladares; junior defenders Nathan Parker, Sean Flynn and Kevin Hare; junior forwards Ben Larsen and David Won; junior midfielder David Coffey; junior keeper Ryo Fabrega; sophomore midfielder Jake Van Baest; sophomore defender Benson Han; freshman midfielder Tyler Chung; and freshman defender Mak Jankovsky.