Despite injuries and illness, the Vikings still have a chance to clinch a state playoff berth

Something strange is taking place at Forest Grove High. The Vikings’ boys soccer team, once a doormat of the Pacific Conference, has turned the corner.

After compiling a 9-4-1 regular-season record, the Forest Grove boys have the school excited about soccer.

That excitement will be on display this Tuesday (after press deadline) when the Vikings host Sprague in an OSAA Class 6A play-in match. During that match, Forest Grove will be selling soccer scarves so that the community to display its support for the side.

“In soccer, (scarves) are a big tradition,” Forest Grove coach Angelo Simonetti said. “If you look at every European stadium, it’s something for the fans to wear at the game. It’s an identity for the club. We had this idea and we put it together.”

Simonetti’s idea is that not only will the scarves allow people to show their support for the boy’s soccer team, they will also give fans a way to support the school as a whole.

“It’s not a boys soccer scarf, it’s a Forest Grove soccer scarf and it’s beautiful,” Simonetti said. “It’s only $15. They can wear it to football games, they can wear it to baseball games. It’s a piece of Forest Grove. It does a lot for the school. It shows a lot of pride. We are proud to be the first sport to do it.”

The Vikings earned the right to be the first sport to ask fans to wear scarves at their games, by battling through injuries and illnesses throughout the soccer season. The bad luck left Forest Grove in tough situations throughout conference play.

However, the team is more-or-less healthy heading into the playoffs, as showcased by a 3-2 victory on the road against Tigard to close out the regular season last Thursday.

“The guys are finally getting healthier,” Simonetti said. “We played fantastic against Tigard. We were controlling the match. I’m really happy with what I saw.”

The Vikings, who finished last season ranked 38th in the Class 6A Power Rankings, head into this year’s postseason ranked 16th.

“That’s a huge improvement,” Simonetti said. “We are beyond the expectations. Going 9-4-1 was a really good year for us.”

Simonetti has high hopes for how the Vikings could fare during the playoffs this season, but he does not want to make predictions other than about the level of effort that his team will show.

“I can’t tell you how far we’re going,” Simonetti said. “But I can tell you that we’ll play with our hearts and go as far as we can.”

Regardless of how deep Forest Grove is able to go in the playoffs, Simonetti says that the Vikings have already proven a lot this year.

“We proved that we’re a good team,” Simonetti says. “We don’t need to prove that to anyone anymore. We’ve already established it.

“The idea is to keep working and playing to the best of our ability.”

For everything the Vikings have accomplished this season — and for restoring the school’s pride in the soccer program — Simonetti could not be more proud of his players.

“I don’t have words to describe how proud and how happy and how excited I am about this team,” Simonetti said. “I have kids who want to be on the team. They want to have good grades. They want to go to college. It’s beyond my expectations.

“They’ve made me a really happy man this season.”

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