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PREP SOCCER: Patient Cleveland advances with 4-0 win

Playing its brand of soccer, the Cleveland High boys passed their first Class 5A playoff test Tuesday night.

The Warriors scored twice in each half to defeat visiting Ashland 4-0.

Cleveland, ranked fifth in the state by the Oregon School Activities Association, will travel to No. 4 Hood River Valley for a 5 p.m. Friday quarterfinal.

CHS and HRV played a friendly last week at Hood River, with the host Eagles winning 3-2, after Cleveland had led 1-0 and 2-1.

"We threw together an endowment game," Cleveland coach Scott Killen says. "It'll be a really good game Friday."

So, for the Warriors, was Tuesday's match at Cleveland. The first goal came after about 25 minutes, with junior defender Milan Mena scoring after a typical Warriors patient start and build-up. About seven minutes later, senior midfielder Adrian Baures made a nifty finish for a 2-0 lead. In the second half, senior Francesco Verna-Ketel got two goals from his position up top.

"They were a good team," Killen says, "and they usually put three strikers high, trying to push and play pretty direct. We didn't get caught up in their over-the-top game, which is based on speed. We were able to maintain our composure and keep the ball moving on the ground, going left to right a lot.

"Our whole style is predicated on possession and making the other team chase the game."

Mena had come off the bench to replace sophomore Jorge Flores -- one of two regular starting strikers out with a concussion.

The Warriors also will continue to be without first-string forward Mudy Abdikadir, a senior who is recovering from a concussion.

Mena's goal "gave us all that much more confidence," Killen says.

Senior midfielder Daniel Merchant -- "he pulls the strings in the attacking midfield for us," Killen says -- had a key role in the four-goal night.

And senior captain Charlie Clark, the center back, "kept the guys focused on defense, along with (senior goalkeeper) Hubie Charmin."

Charmin is a four-year starter who did not allow a goal in Cleveland's 6-0-0 PIL 5A season, and the Warriors' 10 total goals allowed is second-best in 5A, one more than the total given up by No. 7-ranked Marist.

Verna-Ketel gave Cleveland a "big body in the middle up top," Killen says, and both the first goal and several other threats came via set-piece specialist Braxton Griffith, a senior midfielder. "He has a freakishly effective, long throw-in that we use in our attacking third," Killen says.

Also big for the Warriors is holding midfielder Kevin Elliott McCrea, a senior forward.

"He's like a mythological beast," Killen says. "Probably our linchpin. A big, physical guy. We play a 4-5-1 with three in the middle, and Kevin holds down the back of the three in an inverted triangle. So he's in the back with Merchant and Baures, and he cleans up everything and settles the game down."

  • In other 5A first-round playoff games Tuesday, 11th-ranked Silverton bounced No. 6 Wilson 2-1 at Lincoln, and Hood River Valley stopped No. 18 Parkrose 7-1 at HRV.

    Other quaterfinal games will be played on Saturday. Putnam will be at Woodburn, Silverton will visit Wilsonville, and Marist will travel to Summit.