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Sherwood boys are taking aim at the NWOC crown

by: DAN BROOD - TOP RETURNEE -- Sherwood High School senior Alex Castaneda (left), shown here in a match from the 2012 season, looks to be a top returnee for the Bowmen and in the NWOC this year.SHERWOOD — The next step.

The Bowmen are ready to take it — maybe a couple of them, in fact.

The Sherwood High School boys soccer team, which has been a close second in the Northwest Oregon Conference standings the past two years, is hoping to take the final step up those standings in the 2013 season.

“We also want to break through the wall of the quarterfinal round of the state playoffs, which we’ve hit two out of the last three years,” said seventh-year Sherwood coach Monty Hawkins.

To do that, the Bowmen will have to replace some key player that graduated from last year’s squad that went 5-2 in Northwest Oregon Conference play and 8-5-2 on the season. But Sherwood also has some key players back from last year’s Class 5A state playoff team.

Among those returnees is senior midfielder Alex Castaneda, who will serve as one of the team’s captains. Castaneda, who is starting his fourth season on the Bowmen varsity, is a two-time first-team All-Northwest Oregon Conference selection.

“He’s the top returning player for the Bowmen and, arguably, the top NWOC player in 2013,” Hawkins said. “He has a midfield presence in controlling the tempo and rhythm. I expect him to create even more chances for himself and his teammates this season.”

Junior returnee Connor Carraher will be the Bowmen’s other captain. Carraher is starting his third year on the Sherwood varsity and he was an honorable mention all-league pick last year.

“He’s another excellent attacking player who is transitioning to defense, as all four defenders from last year’s team have graduated,” Hawkins said. “He’s a great communicator and selfless player who is moving to defense to help the team.”

Senior midfielder/forward Zephaniah Hollins is another key returnee for Sherwood. He also was an honorable mention all-conference pick last year.

“He’s a crafty, tricky player who can score from distance and close range,” Hawkins said. “He always keep the opposition’s defense on its toes.”

Other returnees for Sherwood include senior goalkeeper William Edgell, senior midfield Andrew Bukur, senior defender/midfielder Bailey States, junior defender Ben Windheim, senior forward Hector Solis, senior forward Beau Curtiss and sophomore defender/midfielder Bryan Cortez-Perez.

In addition to the group of returnees, Sherwood is looking for contributions from it varsity newcomers, including junior defender Ben Milligan, who missed his entire sophomore season following knee surgery.

“He’s one of the team’s top defenders,” Hawkins said. “And (junior newcomer) Nolan Ward has improved dramatically with a real sense of urgency and scoring mentality.”

Other newcomers to the Sherwood varsity include senior goalkeeper Brennan Giles, sophomore defender Zachary Smith, sophomore midfielder Logan Jones, senior defender Tyler Thayer, senior defender/midfielder Jacob Antony and sophomore midfielder Benjamin LaFave.

“We have an outstanding passing team, very capable of keeping possession and creating scoring chances,” Hawkins said in regard to the team’s strengths. “And we have experienced goalkeepers.”

Still, the Bowmen will have to replace the offensive output of NWOC Player of the Year and first-team Class 5A all-state pick Nathan Anderson, who was lost to graduation.

“We’re expecting seniors Andrew Bukur, Beau Curtiss and Hector Solis to help fill that void,” Hawkins said. “Our other question mark is our brand new back line, and how quickly they can adjust.”

As for the Northwest Oregon Conference this year, Hawkins sees some strong competition ahead for the Bowmen.

“Sherwood, Liberty, Wilsonville and (defending champion) Rex Putnam are the traditional contenders for the league title and doing well at the state tournament,” he said. “Sandy was an upstart team from last year and did well at the Class 5A state tourney. The return nearly all of their starters.”

Sherwood opened its 2013 schedule Tuesday by battling Summit of Bend to a 3-3 tie in a non-league match played at Summit.

The Bowmen will be back in action today (Thursday) when they host Hillsboro in a non-league match starting at 7 p.m.

On Tuesday, Sherwood will be home to face Corvallis in a 7 p.m. non-league contest.

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