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Date's Coach of the Year is latest in Lions girls' soccer's rise

Carlson, Estep, Hutton, Reardon, Allen and Bingaman are all-conference talents

PHOTO COURTESY SIMON DATE - Fifth-year Lions manager Simon Date is the Northwest Oregon Conference Girls' Soccer Coach of the Year.COURTESY PHOTO: SIMON DATE - From left, Morgan Bingaman, MacKenzie Carlson, Emelia Reardon, Braya Hutton, Sidney Allen and Sophia Estep received all-Northwest Oregon Conference honorable mention.Simon Date is the Northwest Oregon Conference Coach of the Year, but the fifth-year Lions manager from Frome, Somerset, England, could not win such praise without his all-conference talents in Sophia Estep, MacKenzie Carlson, Braya Hutton, Emilia Reardon, Sidney Allen and Morgan Bingaman.

Estep is a second-team midfielder, Carlson is an honorable mention forward, Hutton is an honorable mention midfielder, Emilia Reardon and Sidney Allen are honorable mention defenders and Morgan Bingaman is an honorable mention goalkeeper.

All six — including Carlson, a freshman who set the school record with five goals in a 12-1 win at The Dalles — will return to chase the Lions' first state championship next year.

"I've never been coach of the year before, so this is definitely an honor," Date said. "Total shock this year — They usually give it to the winner of the league. I see this as a coaches' award — plural. [FC Columbia County secretary and Lions junior varsity coach Amy Forman and president Stu Katz] have been with me for the past five years, have given up the same amount of time with family as I have, have been to the same amount of practices and have the same stresses during the season."

It's all evidence that Date's vision of FC Columbia County for players ages 10 and up that takes on Portland clubs is coming to fruition.

In the meantime, St. Helens (8-6 overall, 2-5 Northwest Oregon Conference) scored as many goals (42) as No. 5 Northwest Oregon Conference champion Sandy but narrowly missed Class 5A state consideration for the second year in a row.

The Lions, ironically, even improved on their 5-9-1, 2-5-1 that qualified in 2014.

"The award this year went to the seventh-place team out of eight, so that means it isn't always about success on the field," Date said. "We've grown in the way we play, the way we handle ourselves, and the program as a whole. This is a direct reflection of the commitment to excellence the 30 girls have made this summer and fall and the long term plan we have. They are ultimately the reason SHHS got the award. I couldn't imagine coaching a better group of young women on or off the field. They make coaching easy. "

St. Helens graduates forwards Ceiarra Van Dolah and Nina Hansen and goalkeeper Lydia Walters.

"I know we are not the team that fills the stands every game, or wins state titles (yet), but we are getting there," Date said. "I know we've pushed the school district hard to gain what we have, and we always want more. Matt Morgan has been a fantastic advocate for the program, over the past few years, as was Cyndy before that. It's a great district to be in, and I look forward to many more successes and bringing a league title next year for our school."

Editor's note: Nov. 4's edition of the Spotlight failed to include MacKenzie Carlson as an all-Northwest Oregon Conference honorable mention forward.