Horizon falls to Umatilla at home

Offense unable to break through against league champs

Just give ‘em a few more games, and the Horizon Christian Hawks are bound to win more than a few games this season.

But that elusive first victory is still up for grabs after they lost a hard-fought home game, 2-0, last Saturday to the 2002 league champs from Umatilla.

“I think our first win is just around the corner,” coach Hal Ueland said of his team, which played spirited defense, but couldn’t get the offense to click against the speedy Vikings.

“We’re still learning the concept of team soccer, and we’re relying too much on individual players right now.”

Senior striker Cheyne Swick and his sophomore brother Colin appear to be the biggest threats up front for Horizon. But freshman Stephen Stenberg and sophomore Josh Dunagan have also shown signs of brilliance on offense.

“Stephen is just a digger,” Ueland said. “He doesn’t play like a typical freshman, and he’s going to help us a lot. Josh has also shown some good offensive skills, but we just need to use him more.”

Defensively, the Hawks are rock solid in the middle, with returning starter Brian Stenberg at center back and two-year starter Aaron Griffin in the net.

Stenberg’s ability to get to balls in the air, combined with Griffin’s ability to do everything else in the goalbox, give the Hawks plenty of stability on the back line.

However, as evidenced by Saturday’s loss to Umatilla, the lesser-experienced outside backs, Samuel Seal and David Rovianek, may have some things to learn from Stenberg and Griffin if the Hawks are going to compete for a playoff spot.

“We’re small and relatively inexperienced in the back this year,” Ueland said. “We have Brian and Aaron along with a group of kids who are still learning their roles. But we have great team speed and a great overall attitude that should carry us.”

On the offensive side of the ball, Ueland hopes to see his team improve its ball movement and communication — two things that shined through in the Sept. 6 jamboree, when the Hawks defeated Umatilla, 2-0.

“We haven’t played as well as I would have hoped since the jamboree,” Ueland said of his team, which lost 4-1 to Trout Lake, Wash., in the Sept. 9 season opener. “Our pace is a little off, and we need to concentrate on building our attack more in the next few games.”

Horizon played North Clackamas Tuesday (results not yet available) and will take on Cascade Locks Thursday at home.

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