by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Junior midfielder Asa Flanagan reacts after scoring the equalizer late in the first half against Astoria on Oct. 24. The Indians lost the match, but still qualified for the playoffs that afternoon.Though the Scappoose boys’ soccer team lost their final two matches of the season to league-leading Astoria and Tillamook, they scored a major win for the program – their first automatic playoff bid in recent memory.

They’ll travel on Saturday afternoon to No. 7 North Bend (12-2), who won their final five games of the season in the eight-team Oregon West conference.

What’s more, the Indians put up a solid fight to close their regular season run. After falling 5-1 to Astoria on Oct. 3, Scappoose was able to turn things around and hold the Fishermen hostage on Oct. 24. Astoria scored early in the match, but gave up a brilliant equalizer from sophomore Asa Flanagan, who took a touch from senior Grady Groom, caught the ball on his chest and sent it into the back of the net. Another score in the first few minutes of the second half gave Astoria a lead, and the Fishermen’s back up goalkeeper was able to hold the Indians scoreless in the final 35 minutes of the match. Though the visitors finished on top, superior goalie play from junior Isaac Hamm and an aggressive attack from the Indian’s offense gave Scappoose numerous chances to draw even or take a lead in the second half.

“It’s a great feeling to play a team like (Astoria) and know you played better than them,” said Flanagan, who narrowly missed tapping the ball in midway through the second half. Astoria’s goalkeeper was able to get a finger on the ball just inches from the goal line, saving the win for the Fishermen.

On Tuesday evening, Scappoose had one of their better defensive performances of the season. In the first match with Tillamook, the Indians let in a pair of goals before scoring three in a row to take a 3-2 lead. They gave up a goal in the second half to draw with the Cheesemakers on Oct. 9. The second match was a tight one as well, with the Indians holding tough and falling 1-0.

The change in the teams’ play, according to head coach Scott Stanton, has been about getting comfortable with the lineup and the different things that each team member contributes.

“Everybody takes a little while to settle in to your role,” said Stanton. “We moved some people around this year, so we were messing with a little bit of that going in. We’ve actually had quite a few injuries and setbacks that we’ve just had to deal with, and finding people to put in to those spots and getting them used to where they’re playing (has been a challenge).”

When Scappoose last qualified for the playoffs in 2010, it was on a wild card, something the team had to wait until the last minute to find out. This time around, Stanton is excited and glad the team has a chance to prepare ahead of time for the upcoming match. Additionally, Stanton was relieved to have the hard work finally pay off.

“It’s nice. It’s a long time coming,” he said. “I knew that coming in, and when I was mapping out the plan to get us heading in the right direction, it was a two year plan. So it’s a long wait, but finally nice to see it paying off and being rewarding.”

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