Coach Obiero likes this team

OREGON CITY - Oregon City lost some key players to graduation and the Pioneers will sport a youthful lineup. But that doesn't mean that Oregon City won't be competitive in boys soccer this fall.

'I like the team unity,' said Oregon City coach Myque Obiero. 'This is the best unity I've had since I've coached at Oregon City. Everybody communicates and relates to one another. And they work so hard.'

Among those lost to graduation are Miguel Curiel, a first-team all-state selection, and first-team all-league players Cristian Flores and Cody Abbott.

All-league players Zach Wallace, Jeff Yaw and Erik Solis have also graduated.

'When you lose eight seniors, including the league player of the year and two first-team all-league players, it's a lot to replace,' said Obiero. 'We have a very, very young team. We've got five freshmen on varsity and at least three will start.'

The Pioneers have a lot of youth in their lineup. But they won't be without experienced and skilled players. Eight varsity players return who started or played a lot last year, and most of the freshmen on varsity are skilled, having played club soccer under Joey Leonetti.

Leonetti is a former Gladstone High School standout who played professional soccer, as well as for the U.S. National Team (1990, 1992 and 1996).

Leonetti, 41, was named the Oregon high school boys soccer player of the year for all classifications his senior year at Gladstone. And he earned All-American honors while leading the University of Portland to four straight appearances in the NCAA Tournament.

Leonetti has joined the Oregon City High School coaching staff as a varsity assistant, and his son, freshman Blake Leonetti, will start for the Pioneers, in the midfield or on defense.

Freshman Kyle Brewer replaces Oregon City second-team all-league goalie Jeff Jaw.

'He's very raw, but he's tall - 6-1 or 6-2 - and pretty physical,' Obiero said of Brewer. 'And he's still growing.'

Obiero says he also likes what he's seen from freshman Parker Riggs, who will start on defense.

Experienced players returning from last year's high school varsity roster include: seniors Jared Neumann (defense), Michael Patino (midfield/forward) and Sam Hoult (forward); juniors Blake Beneville (defense), Daniel Slack (midfield/forward), Landon Collier (midfield) and Jake Phillips (midfield/forward); and sophomore Tony Flore (midfield).

Beneville is seeing his third year of starting action.

Obiero said that he sees defending champion Lake Oswego and West Linn as the preseason favorites in the TRL.

He said the jury is still out as to how his Pioneers will fare, because so many of them will be new to high school varsity level play.

'As a unit, I feel we have better cohesiveness [than last year], but we've still got a lot of work to do,' said Obiero.

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