Hilhi soccer gunning for postseason once again
Spartans would like to advance past the state quarterfinals
The Hillsboro boys soccer team has become accustomed to success.
A regular playoff team and contender in the Pacific Conference, Hilhi went 5-1-1 (third place) in league play last year and capped a 10-4-2 season by knocking off 2011 state champion Westview in the first round of the state playoffs before falling to eventual state runner-up Lincoln in the second round.
Continued success this fall should come as no surprise, especially since longtime Hilhi coach Tim Ellsworth brings back a veteran squad.
Were pretty experienced. We have 13 seniors and 10 of them started (our first game), said Ellsworth, now in his 13th season. So we have some elders, I guess, or some old guys, so that bodes well for us. Fairly good players, so that really helps.
His goal is for the team to finish the regular season in the top eight of the power rankings, which would allow the Spartans to host two state playoff games on their grass field, and to make it to the quarterfinals. Hilhi was also eliminated in the second round in 2011.
The team really wants to push past that and advance to the round of eight, because once you get there, youve got to have luck, Ellsworth said. Its anybodys chance to win it from that point.
Hilhi graduated three-year team member Lorenzo Balcazar, as well as defender J.J. Huerta who is now at Clark College and goalkeepers Nick Johnson and Jose Landeros off of last seasons team. But forward Tyler Hoiem, a second team all-conference pick, is back for the Spartans.
Hell lead our attack up top, along with Abran Serrano-Garcia, whos back, Ellsworth said. Hes a four-year varsity guy.
On defense, Aaron Barbur-Axhelm and Abraham Salcedo return after winning league all-star honors in 2012. Ellsworth also has hopes for center midfielder Ridge Calotis, who started earning more minutes late in the season last fall. Phoenix Baltrus is back in goal after splitting time over the past two seasons with the teams other keepers. Diego Canastuj-Lopez, who was ineligible last season, scored the game-winning goal in last weeks win over Liberty.
I think hes going to be a huge contributor for us this year, Ellsworth said.
Jaguars coach Steve Corey admits that this years team is still a bit of a mystery to him. Through Wednesday, Century had played in a jamboree and just one game, a 3-0 victory against Reynolds, so Corey acknowledged that Thursdays game (after press deadline) at Lakeridge would be more telling.
Its hard to say, Corey said. It really all depends where their heads are at and how well they can maintain their composure and confidence on the field. We wont know, really, until all of a sudden were down a goal and if they have the ability to come back or not. Last year that was always a problem, so well see what this year will bring.
In 2012, Century went 1-5-1 in league play (tied for seventh) and 3-8-5 overall. The team did knock off West Linn in a play-in game before falling 5-0 in the first round of the state playoffs to eventual champion Jesuit.
The Jaguars bring back Quinn Marshall, who was a second team all-conference selection, between the pipes.
Hes probably one of the best keepers in the state, Corey said. So hes ... the most important player that we have in the back.
Center back Oscar Guzman and forward Gilberto Arreola Lopez will also be key, and Corey mentioned that senior midfielder Jonatan Rodriguez Sanchaez could be a surprise this year after not turning out in 2012.
The 2012 season was a fantastic one for the Falcons, who finished 10-5-1 overall and tied for second in the Northwest Oregon Conference before making a run to the Class 5A state quarterfinals.
There, Liberty built a 2-1 lead on Woodburn with 20 minutes to go before falling 3-2. The Bulldogs went on to claim their third consecutive state title.
This year is already shaping up nicely as well.
So far its been good, second-year coach Chris Sletten said. This preseason is going to be tough, though. We have a lot of 6A teams that have been in the playoffs the last couple of years, and so were really challenging ourselves, trying to set ourselves up for a good run at the (NWOC) title.
Sletten called this years squad, which boasts 10 seniors, deep and experienced. He estimated that he brings back seven starters, including all-league forwards Noe Gomez and Eric Avalos.
Other key returners include goalkeeper Jonathan Amaro and midfielder Cristian Ramirez. Sletten also called freshman midfielder Jason Cortez, who is pushing for a starting spot, a pleasant surprise.
Hes worked very hard and been very impressive and hopefully well get four good years out of him, Sletten noted.