Kingsmen make boys soccer history
Putnam clinches what may be its first ever title in high school boys soccer
The unheralded Rex Putnam Kingsmen continued to draw attention in Oregon Class 5A high school boys soccer last week.
With wins over Wilsonville (2-1) and St. Helens (5-1), the Kingsmen clinched a share of what is thought to be the first league boys soccer title in school history.
The pair of wins put the Kingsmen at 6-0-0 (10-3-0 overall) on the Northwest Oregon Conference season, with the only conference game remaining a Nov. 1 game hosting Liberty (6-7-0, 5-1-0). A win or tie would leave the Kingsmen all alone atop the Northwest Oregon Conference standings with the regular season complete; a loss would give the Kingsmen a co-championship with the Falcons.
'I don't think it's ever happened before,' said Putnam coach Mitch Wing. 'When we made the playoffs in 2002, it was our first time in the playoffs since 1980…. It's so cool. After the last two years, I was willing to take anything I could get. Man, this is amazing!'
'At the beginning of the season, I'm sure none of us expected this,' said Putnam team co-captain Joey Martinez. 'When we were going to play Sherwood, none of us expected to win that game. When we won, that got our hopes up. And since then we've been winning. It's exciting!'
'I was expecting to do better than last year, but not that much better,' said Putnam junior co-captain Dustin Lantz. 'I wasn't expecting to go 6-0 in conference.'
The Kingsmen struggled and failed to make postseason play during the 2009 and 2010 seasons, going 1-13-1 in 2009 and 2-9-3 last fall.
But they have had some success in recent years, advancing to the state playoffs in 2002, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008.
They had their best season since 1979 [second in league and state semifinalists] in 2008, going all the way to the Class 6A quarterfinals, where they lost a 3-2 heartbreaker to McNary. Martinez was a swing player on that 2008 team.
'That team was a lot different [than this year's team],' said Martinez. 'They were all seniors and everybody was big.
'I remember the next year, everybody played with loose jerseys, because the jerseys [from the year before] were so big.'
Martinez said the key to the success of this year's team has been unselfish team play.
'This year we pass the ball around a lot,' he said.
Martinez added, 'I think we can go far [in the playoffs]. We just have to believe in each other and keep trusting in each other.'
'It's pretty much the opposite from last season, when we didn't win a lot,' said team co-captain Elliot Bixby. 'It's a pretty amazing turnaround. It's pretty much the same team. Last year we only had two seniors.'
Bixby credited this year's improvement to maturity and 'a whole year of playing together.'
'Last year we were pretty much all sophomores,' he said. 'This year we're mostly juniors.'
Wing said of last week's 2-1 win over Wilsonville, 'In the first half, we were passing the best we have all year.'
Martinez played a big role against the Wildcats. The senior offensive leader scored off a pass from David Wood 12 minutes before the half to put Putnam up 1-0.
And he assisted Jose Rivera on a goal 14 minutes into the second half to make it 2-0.
The score remained that way until Wilsonville scored off a free kick with eight minutes left to play.
The Kingsmen then held off a frenzied Wildcat offensive assault down the stretch to secure the 2-1 victory.
'Elliot Bixby and Leonel Sanchez did a marvelous job of controlling the midfield,' said Wing. 'But everyone played well. It was a great team effort.'
It took the Kingsmen a half to get rolling against a physical opponent from St. Helens last Thursday.
Luis Perez scored off a ball from Martinez for a 1-0 lead, but that was Putnam's only goal of the first half.
'The first half was helter-skelter, but then we settled things down,' said Wing.
Sanchez scored off a pass from Dustin Lantz and Martinez put a penalty kick away to make it 3-0 15 minutes into the second half, and the game was in hand.
Wood added a goal off a pass from Oscar Gutierrez and Perez added a goal off a pass from Bixby to round out Putnam's scoring.
'We're playing at a very high level right now,' said Wing. 'Can we continue to play at a high level in the playoffs? I don't see any reason why we can't. We're going to take on the best 5A teams in the state, and we're ready.'
'I think we can go pretty far if we play good in both halves,' said junior co-captain Dustin Lantz. 'We've had a lot of games where we've had to come from behind because of a slow start. If we pass the ball as a team and talk through the whole game, I think we could do pretty good.'
back on track
Putnam's girls soccer team got back on track last week, defeating Wilsonville 2-1 and St. Helens 5-0.
The Kingsmen (8-4-0, 4-2) were in a three-team logjam with Liberty (8-3-2, 4-2) and Wilsonville (6-5-2, 4-2), in second place in the NWOC standings, heading into this Tuesday's [Nov. 1] final league games.
Putnam was to play Liberty on the road in its league final, while Wilsonville was scheduled to host St. Helens (1-10-1, 1-5).
Top-ranked Sherwood (13-0-0, 6-0) last week clinched the NWOCC girls title, remaining unbeaten and untied with shutouts of Sandy (3-0) and Parkrose (9-0).
Last Thursday's 5-0 win over St. Helens was the Makenzie Maier show. The 5-5 freshman talent turned a hat trick, and staked the Kingsmen to a 2-0 lead at halftime.
Fatima Herrera and Brianna Norris added goals in the second half.
Putnam senior keeper Anna Stewart wasn't very busy, but she made three saves.
Stewart was pivotal in the 2-1 win at Wilsonville. Wilsonville put a ball in the net to make it 2-1 with 25 minutes to play, and the Cats pressed hard in the ensuing play, with Stewart making two crucial stops down the stretch.
Sophomore Bella Geist scored both goals for the Kingsmen, putting the game-winner away off a pass from Brianna Barnes in the first minute of the second half.