Horizon falls to Marist in state tourney

All good things must come to an end, but we often wish they didn't have to.

The Horizon Christian Hawks soccer team, which ran roughshod through the league this season on the way to an undefeated record, finally met its match Tuesday, Nov. 6, when the Marist Spartans came to Hood River for a second-round state playoff game.

The Spartans, who have won numerous state championships at the 3A/2A/1A level, used their experience and size to break down the Hawks and win 2-0.

"The competition was as good as we've seen all season," coach Hal Ueland said. "Marist has a lot of talent and history, and we expected a tough game. But we just wanted to be competitive, and I believe we were."

Horizon came out strong from the opening whistle, matching the Spartans' intensity and challenging every shot. Sweeper John Winters and center fullback Brian Stenberg were the most active on defense, using their speed and aggressive play to turn the Spartans away for most of the first half.

Marist finally got behind the defense mid-way through the first when Chris Boyum finished off a cross from the left side with a diving header. The play developed so quickly that Hawks goalkeeper Aaron Griffin was unable to defend the shot.

The way Marist was moving the ball, the score could have been more than 1-0 at half, but Griffin was on top of every ball sent into the box. Marist's second goal was more of a fluke as the ball hit Griffin in the back and trickled over the goal line.

Horizon did manage a few counterattacks, but a speedy Marist back line denied every open shot attempt. The Spartan defense neutralized the potent offensive combo of Joel Stenberg and Cheyne Swick, and didn't allow the Hawks to develop much of an offensive surge.

"We would have liked to score, but their defense really took us out of our game," Ueland said. "They dominated us in the second half, but our kids came away with a lot of confidence and the experience will make us better next year."

Ueland will have six of his seven all-conference players returning next season and has spoken to some current eighth graders about playing, including Swick's brother, Colin.

The most notable omission from next year's roster will be league MVP Joel Stenberg, who is graduating this year.

"Joel plays with so much heart and desire," Ueland said. "You just can’t coach that."

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