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Boys soccer: Tribe on track for first league title in school history

Thanks to a 2-1 defeat of Astoria on the road, the first such win for Scappoose since 1999, the Indians are well on their way to winning their first ever league title


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Scappoose senior Asa Flanagan races an Astorian defender for the ball late in the match on Tuesday evening in Warrenton. Flanagan scored the equalizer in the 62nd minute, helping to pull Scappoose even before fellow senior Devin Timmons got the game-winner two minutes later.They say if you want something done right, you've got to do it yourself. And on the pitch in Warrenton for a major showdown between the Scappoose boys and Astoria on Tuesday evening, only one man knew what it was like to actually pull off a season sweep of the Fishermen: head coach Scott Stanton.

The Indians pulled off a miraculous come-from-behind victory, beating Astoria 2-1 and taking both matches from their league nemesis for the first time since 1999 — when Stanton and assistant Ryan Poster were both seniors in high school.

More importantly, it puts Scappoose in line for a league title, their first in program history. The sweet victory and the sentimental connection to his own high school finale brought about a raucous moment in the post game huddle as Stanton informed the boys of exactly what they'd just pulled off: handed Astoria's seniors the first sweep of their high school careers, won in Astoria for the first time in 15 years and suddenly jumped into the league's drivers' seat with no intention of taking their feet off the accelerator.

It was a showdown the Tribesmen had been looking forward to since their first game of the season, the Indians' 4-2 victory over Astoria back in September. And coming in, both sides deeply understood the gravity of the final meeting and held nothing back through the first 30 minutes of play.

Astoria made hay up front, taunting the Indians' back line with their speed and quickness, while Scappoose threatened time and again, only to see chances swallowed up by sophomore keeper Kyle Birge.

Astoria pushed forward as the fouls mounted against Scappoose. 5-0, and Fisherman senior Josh Long cut across the center of the 18-yard box before being stopped. 6-0, and sophomore Luis Herrejon darted up the middle and bounced a shot into the waiting arms of Indian senior Isaac Hamm.

The Scappoose defense stood through it all, clearing a trio of corners in the first half and holding the home side to a single legitimate shot on goal before the whistle blew for the halftime break.

The physicality continued in the second half, and in the 61st minute, the Fishermen finally broke through. Scappoose failed to clear the ball outside of their defensive half, and Astoria pounced. A quick lob found the head of freshman midfielder Cole Beeson, who whipped a goal past Hamm to give Astoria a 1-0 lead.

It was an all-too familiar picture. There they were, trailing Astoria on the road yet again. The Indians had managed just three goals against Astoria on their home field in the last eight seasons, none of the goals coming in victories. They'd gotten a 1-1 draw, but never scored more than once.

But to the boys on the pitch, at no point was the match ever slated as a loss.

“Once they got that goal, we knew that we were not going to come out and lose this [game],” senior forward Devin Timmons said. “We'd come way too far this season for these seniors to lose. We've been losing forever, and we knew that this is our year, and we were not going to let it happen.”

Astoria had given Scappoose the challenge. Break the streak, they said. We haven't lost a league game at home in four years, they said.

The Fishermen, perennial league champions and the terror of the Cowapa League, got a sound answer moments later from the foot of a determined and hungry Asa Flanagan.

He'd spent all evening hounding the Astorian defensive line. Every clearance was pressured. Every ball was fought for, and with a handful of 50-50 balls bouncing the home team's way in the first half, it was only a matter of time before one got away from the Fisherman keeper.

And in the 62nd minute, the Fishermen finally let a big one get away. Flanagan charged forward, meeting Birge in the center of the box and tapping the ball past after Birge failed to hold on to deny the equalizer.

And according to Timmons, who scored in the 64th minute, it was all over from that point. The narrow margin for error started to evaporate for Astoria as Scappoose gained confidence, and in a blur, Flanagan sent a ball through a crowd to Timmons. The rest of the game winner happened at a crawl for the senior striker.

“I see the ball come, and first thought is I didn't have a great angle at it, and so I thought I needed to keep it low and try to slide to post. I kind of mis-hit it, and it went right between [the keeper's] legs,” Timmons said. “It was in complete slow motion. I watched it, and it seemed like forever before it went in.”

Timmons said it was “one of the best moments of high school soccer,” a sentiment echoed by Stanton, at least as far as his Scappoose-related experience could muster, after the match went final.

But amazingly enough, the victory wasn't an upset. It wasn't even unexpected. In fact, Stanton has had this moment penciled in since he took over the position ahead of the 2012 season.

“These guys are starting to figure out that when I came in, I had a three-year plan,” Stanton said in his usual, unnervingly calm voice after a huge victory. “We're now looking at year three. Year three was the league title, and we've hit every benchmark that I've set for us.”

“It's pretty nice to have that feeling if you set goals, because it's a big project. To hit those each step of the way lets you know that you are on the right track.”

The benchmark, though, won't be final unless the Indians can tack on another two wins. Winning just one of their final three matches leaves the door open — just a crack, but open — for Astoria to storm back, win out and snatch away a piece of Scappoose history. If all goes well, the Indians can clinch their first title at home against Seaside on Oct. 23, provided Astoria doesn't make things academic with a loss in their next match.

Stanton, though it's not clear whether it was on purpose so as to avoid a superstitious curse, refrained from uttering the words “league title” after the 2-1 win over Astoria, but it is beginning to become clear that the Indians aren't the team they used to be. Sweeping the Fishermen, winning on Astoria's home field and winning a league title were all things that might have seemed next to impossible when this years' seniors were freshman, but times have changed.

“We were starting to think it. The boys knew it was a possibility, but we still had one big hurdle,” Stanton said, glancing at the still-lit scoreboard in the far corner of the grounds. “Getting them to think one game at a time was a bit of a challenge, so it was good to come here and get the win finally, after several years.”

The prospective of winning the championship at home, which is likely given that Scappoose won't play another league match on the road, has Stanton excited. The home fans haven't had much to see over the years, and he views this as the team's chance to put on a show and give back to the support they've had.

And as unpredictable as the game of soccer can be, one thing is for sure — Scappoose will come out of the gate, guns a blazin'.

Note: Astoria sophomore goalkeeper Kyle Birge was stretchered off the field in the 74th minute after a collision with Tribe forward Asa Flanagan and an Astorian defender, which may have resulted in a broken right leg. Junior Elijah Hirsch stepped in for the remainder of the match.

SUMMARY

Scappoose 2, Astoria 1

SCAP 0 2 — 2

ASTO 0 1 — 1

Goals:

ASTO — Cole Beeson, 61'

SCAP — Asa Flanagan, 62'

SCAP — Devin Timmons (A. Flanagan), 64'

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