Hawks lose steam down playoff stretch

Season in Review

Some may refer to the Horizon Christian Hawks’ soccer season as a disappointment.

But be careful who you say that around, because despite a 1-4-1 finish in District 5 (5-6-3 overall), this fiery group of round-ballers believes it had more than a few positives to take away from this season.

“It was a fun year for all of us,” said senior goalkeeper Aaron Griffin, who was one of three Hawks named to the all-league first team (Brian Stenberg and Paul Rovianek were the others).

“We feel like we could have won a few more games, but I think most everyone was happy with the progress we made as a team,” he said.

Included among the team’s supporters was coach Hal Ueland, who returned to duty in 2003 after taking last year off.

Ueland said he thought his squad would perform better in league play. But even though the Hawks earned just three points against Umatilla and Grant Union (John Day), he said he was pleased with the overall effort.

“The win over Grant was no doubt the highlight for us,” said Ueland, who has chosen to retire from coaching after this season. “We were obviously pleased with the result, but also with our style of play. We were very assertive that game, and that may have been what was lacking in the others.”

The Hawks lost the other two contests with Grant — one before and one after the victory on Oct. 10. And while Horizon looked like the superior team that day, Grant won the battle of experience in the other two meetings.

“We only had four players with significant varsity experience,” Ueland said of Stenberg and the three seniors (Cheyne Swick, Rovianek and Griffin). “But on the plus-side, we had a solid group of young players who will form the nucleus here very soon.”

Freshmen Stephen Stenberg and David Rovianek jumped right in and started for the Hawks, who also had a handful of sophomore contributors, including Samuel Seal, Jon Strickland, Jared Nagreen, Josh Dunagan and Colin Swick.

Ueland said it was exciting to watch his team’s progress, but lamented that they didn’t play every game the way they did on Oct. 10.

“I really thought we would do better in league play this year,” he said. “But we took some steps, and some of the things we have to do, we’re starting to do.”

He also spoke of the growing numbers for the program — up to 24 kids this year — as well as the constantly growing group of young players joining the ranks, and the dedication of assistant coach Mark Lago, who may stay with the team next season.

“If these kids do the work and show up fit at the start of next year, they have a chance to go far,” Ueland said. “The seniors will be missed, but we have a solid foundation to build upon.”

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