Boys soccer: St. Helens flattens Parkrose 5-1 for first league win since 2011
The Lions will have a chance to go 2-0 in league for the first time since 2006 in Monday's game at Liberty
Heading into Tuesday's NW Oregon Conference opener for the St. Helens boys soccer program, the Lions had a clear goal in mind. 12 days prior, they'd snapped a losing streak dating back two years with a 2-1 win over Dallas. Now, their eyes were set on breaking a 20-match winless stretch in league play.
And on Tuesday evening, the Lions did just that, blowing past Parkrose 5-1 and moving to 1-0 in the NW Oregon Conference standings for the first time since Oct. 11, 2011.
I convinced them and they convinced themselves that really, the season started tonight, first-year head coach Bob Opperman said. The preseason is great, but our season starts tonight. they knew starting right now that everybody was [at] zero in league. Now we're 1-0, so it's gonna look good in there.
The Lions led 2-0 at halftime, and just three minutes in, got a shot and score from senior Justin Pence in the middle of the 18-yard box to garner a 3-0 lead. In the 51st minute, St. Helens struck again on an unassisted goal from Gus Francisco to take a 4-0 lead. They gave one back on a Parkrose goal in the 55th minute, but with a little over three minutes left, Dorian Hughes collected a pass in the box, split a pair of defenders and sent home the Lions' fifth goal of the night.
It's the largest margin of victory in a league contest for the Lions since St. Helens blanked Liberty 6-0 back in 2006. That was also the last time St. Helens started off 2-0 in NWOC play, something they'll have a chance to do against those same Liberty Falcons on Monday, Oct. 6 on the road. Liberty lost to Wilsonville to open the league schedule, and like St. Helens, is 2-5 on the season.
That has the Lions awfully hungry, according to Opperman.
They've struggled for two or three years. I'm just excited for them, he said, laughing. The guys are just so excited. I'm excited too, even though I'm an old man! These guys like it, and they deserve it.
The victory, dominant as it was, will do as much for the team's psyche as it will for their standings and their place in the OSAA power rankings. Opperman said that the players except for Hughes, who stated his case as the team left to celebrate with fans still got a little tired toward the end of the match, but improved health and an infusion of victorious energy have the team running on full throttle.
I think the team is getting a lot of confidence, Opperman said. They realize now that they can do this. That's what's going to help out a lot. They know that they can win now. It isn't another whatever they had in the past, and it's them, not me. It's them. They're doing it, and they've lifted themselves up to this height in just convincing them that they can do that was the best part of it.
Opperman also offered a word of caution, pointing out that though the win was sweet, there were seven more games to go before the league schedule wraps up with a game on the road at Sandy on Oct. 28. They'll take it one game at a time, he said, but for a few days at least, this one will feel good.
St. Helens 5, Parkrose 1
PARK 0 1 1
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