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Spartans Luis Mercado is selected conference Player of the Year, 16 Hilhi players honored overall

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER OERTELL - Hilhi's Luis Mercado kicks the ball during a Spartans game earlier this season. Mercado was selected the NWOC Player of the Year.Usually when a team wins a league championship and captures second place in what appeared to be a rebuilding year, there's a reason — and that reason is players. Good ones.

The Northwest Oregon Conference all-star soccer teams were announced recently and the Hilhi Spartans were well represented. The boys team, which won the NWOC with an undefeated 6-0-1 record, garnered three first-team honorees and five honorable mention selections.

Led by NWOC co-Player of the Year Luis Mercado, a senior defenseman who shared the distinction with Parkrose's Noah Addie, the Spartans boasted senior forward Bryan Tapia and midfielder Edwin Rivas on this year's first-team.

With Mercado taking home Player of the Year honors, it marked the second consecutive year Hilhi has claimed said prize, with Tapia earning the award last season.

The Spartan first-teamers were joined on the list of postseason honorees by several honorable mention selections: Sophomore forward Gaby Tena, sophomore midfielder Angel Rojas, senior defensemen Quintin Thomas and Sebastian Balcazar and sophomore goal keeper Pablo Mendoza.

The Hilhi boys suffered an overtime loss to Hermiston in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Parkrose's Damian Califf was selected as Coach of the Year.

The Spartan girls, who were thought to be rebuilding this season, finished second in the NWOC and defeated Hood River Valley in the first round before losing a quarterfinal match up to No. 1-ranked North Eugene.

Hilhi had eight honorees overall, including two first-teamers, two second-teamers and four honorable mention. The Spartans' Dean Miyama was selected as the NWOC Coach of the Year, making it the second time in three years the Hilhi skipper has been so honored.

The Sparts were led by the first-team selections senior midfielder Madison Ellsworth and senior defenseman Maria Chavez. Second-team selections included freshman midfielder Taliya Miyama and sophomore midfielder McKenzie Staub, while freshman forward Emily Mora, senior goal keeper Addison Rinck, senior midfielder Lydia King and sophomore defenseman Annika Rahf were voted honorable mention.

Sandy's Marley Salveter was selected as Player of the Year.

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