Overlook the Gladiators at your own peril
Gladstone is much improved over last season
With eight players returning with starting experience, the Gladstone Gladiators should be much improved in boys soccer this fall.
Ive already noticed a lot of improvement over last year, said Gladstone coach Tyler Lewis. Whether or not that translates into wins on the field remains to be seen.
Returning with starting experience are senior Joren Nielsen in-goal, senior Brandon Stalker and junior Riley Philo on defense, senior Ty Breshears and junior Victor Ibarra in the midfield, and junior Eder Zavala and sophomore Hector Orozco in the forward line. Zavala played defense last year.
Breshears and Ibarra were both second-team all-conference selections and Zavala merited honorable mention in the 2011 Tri-Valley Conference all-star balloting.
Seniors Pedro Fuentes (forward) and Michael Peel (defense) also return with a considerable amount of varsity experience from 2011.
The Gladiator defense has also been bolstered by the addition of Andrew Gross, a freshman with Olympic Development experience.
He was the best player on the field in our [season-opener] with Stayton, Lewis said of Gross.
Junior lettermen Ty Carlson and Eveth Valenzuela have been seeing starting action in the midfield. Junior David Ventura has moved up from last years jayvee to start on defense.
Freshmen Arturo Ibarra (midfield) and Angel Orozco (forward) round out this years varsity roster.
After a 3-0 loss to 2011 semifinalist Stayton in their season opener, the Gladiators have bounced back, with back-to-back shutouts of Seaside (2-0) and Scappoose (2-0).
Lewis says he likes what he saw from his charges in their opener with Stayton.
Last year, when we played Stayton, we lost 9-0, he said. This year the first goal was scored with seconds remaining in the first half. Defensively we were able to sustain pressure. And we had a few offensive runs against one of the top teams in the state.
The Gladiators begin Tri-Valley Conference play this Thursday, hosting 2012 state champion Molalla.
Lewis picks La Salle as the preseason favorite to win the TVC.
Id say La Salle [is the favorite], without question, he said. They have some key pieces returning Dakota Eisel and David Lillie. And they have a lot of players with soccer experience outside of high school....
After La Salle, it remains to be seen. I know its going to be a pretty tough league. If you look at the last 10 state champions, the majority have been from our conference....
How we do will depend on whether we can turn our improvement on the field into results.
Lewis noted that his Gladiators, in just three games, had already scored more goals than they did in all of last season.
Zavala and Orozco scored in last weeks 2-0 win over Seaside; Orozco scored twice in the shutout of Scappoose, off assists from Ibarra and Gross.