He expects them to be in the thick of things in NWOC boys soccer

There are a lot of new faces. But Milwaukie boys soccer coach Roberto Aguilar expects his Mustangs to be much improved over a year ago, when Milwaukie won only one game all year and finished tied for seventh in the eight-team Northwest Oregon Conference.

“Wilsonville is the favorite and Sherwood is always good....,” Aguilar said. “I think the league is tougher overall, but I’d like to think we could be third. I definitely hope to beat [defending NWOC champion and league rival] Putnam. I think we should be third, if we can keep our heads together....”

Aguilar says he’s got a little more skill than he had last year, and he says he likes his team’s work ethic and “mental toughness.”

“These kids have a strong drive to win,” Aguilar said. “They all play hard and they don’t dwell on mistakes....”

The Mustangs have shown promise in preseason. They played Hermiston, the fifth-ranked Class 5A team in the state, tough in a 2-1 loss.

“Last year when we played Hermiston in preseason we lost 7-1,” said Aguilar. “This year we lost 2-1 and they scored both of their goals in the last five minutes.”

The Mustangs defeated South Albany 3-1 on Sept. 13, after battling Silverton to a 1-1 draw in their season opener.

They gave the fourth-ranked Franklin Quakers all they could handle last Thursday in a 2-1 loss.

Junior forward Edgar Pantoja-Alvarez scored Milwaukie’s lone goal in the Mustangs’ tie with the Silver Foxes, off an assist from senior forward Angel Cacho.

Pantoja-Alvarez scored unassisted in the win over South Albany. Cacho scored twice, with assists coming from Pantoja-Alvarez and from senior midfielder Anton Grokhovskyi.

Senior midfielder Sergio Zurita-Luna scored in the first half of the Hermiston game, off an assist from Grokhovskyi.

Senior Jose Penuelas, who started on defense last year, and junior Randall Sam have both started at goalkeeper.

The only other returning players who saw starting action a year ago are seniors Hayden Schuster (defense), Robert Camacho (midfield) and T.J. Fisher (defense).

Pantoja-Alvarez, and seniors Cacho and Zurita-Luna are returning varsity lettermen.

Schuster and Zurita-Luna garnered Northwest Conference all-star recognition as juniors.

German exchange student Jakob Edding is seeing action for the Mustangs in the midfield.

Rounding out this year’s varsity roster are: seniors Cesar Miguel (defense), Luke Yackley (forward) and Connor Whitehouse (defense); sophomores Kevin Villanueva (defense) and Alex Cacho-Barrera (midfield); and freshman Jacob Cates (forward/midfield).

The Mustangs (1-2-2) begin NWOC play this Thursday, at St. Helens (1-4-0).

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