Lions boys' soccer can continue recent success
St. Helens St. Helens last reached first round of state in 2007
The Lions are better all the time.
St. Helens is 9-33 overall and 3-20 in the Northwest Oregon Conference in the last three years, but last season's 7-8, 2-6 record was its best record in several years.
Senior defender Jacob Olson is the only of seven all-Northwest Oregon Conference Lions to return this year, but St. Helens can climb the ranks.
"We've got positive attitudes, so we can build," Olson said.
Forward Conner Nett, defender Greg Maywald and keeper Jake Hawkins are also back as seniors.
"We've got good skill from our freshman to our seniors," Nett said. "Last year most of our skill was in the upper classes."
The Lions open at home with the Seven-Mile War against Scappoose, back from the Class 4A state play-in round, at 7 p.m. on Sept. 1.
The host Indians won last year's game 1-0.
St. Helens hosts state quarterfinalist Hermiston at 4 p.m. on Sept. 15. Defending Northwest Oregon Conference champion and state runner-up Wilsonville comes to town at 7 p.m. on Oct. 11, and the Lions play at state semifinalist Hillsboro at 4 p.m. on Oct. 18.
"We've got lots of incoming freshmen who can keep the progress going," Hawkins said. "We're not new, we're improved. I'm [in the place of recently-graduated all-conference keeper Beau Mason] now."
The state playoffs' first round is scheduled for Nov. 2. The finals are set for Nov. 12.
Hood River Valley beat Wilsonville for its second state title after winning its first in 2014.
The Lions, who have never won a state championship, last reached the first round of state in 2007.
"We're not concerned about who gets the glory," St. Helens coach Bob Opperman said. "We're working really hard at teamwork, and we are still figuring out who does what the best."
St. Helens Lions
COACH: Bob Opperman
CONFERENCE: Class 5A, Northwest Oregon Conference
2015 FINISH: 7-8 overall, 2-6 Northwest Oregon (Eighth in conference, missed state playoffs)
Aug. 25 St. Helens at Century Jamboree, 11:45 a.m., in Hillsboro
Sept. 1 Scappoose at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Sept. 6 Dallas at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Sept. 8 St. Helens at Astoria, 6 p.m.
Sept. 13 St. Helens at Centennial, 6 p.m., in Gresham
Sept. 15 Hermiston at St. Helens, 4 p.m.
Sept. 22 St. Helens at The Dalles, 4 p.m.
Sept. 27 South Albany at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Sept. 29 St. Helens at Sandy, 7 p.m.
Oct. 4 Parkrose at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Oct. 6 St. Helens at Milwaukie, 7 p.m.
Oct. 11 Wilsonville at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Oct. 18 St. Helens at Hillsboro, 4 p.m.
Oct. 20 Putnam at St. Helens, 7 p.m.
Oct. 25 La Salle Prep at St. Helens, 7 p.m.