November 9, 2005
The Horizon Hawks soccer team hosted the Delphian Dragons Saturday afternoon in the first round of the OSAA 1A/2A state playoffs. In some of the worst weather of the year, the Dragons outlasted the Hawks, scoring three goals in the second half for a 3-0 shutout victory. The loss means an end to Horizon’s best season in five years, with an overall record of 15-5-1.
“It was absolutely miserable out there,” Coach Lago said about Saturday’s cold, torrential weather. “Almost everyone on the team played their hearts out and they all played extremely well for the conditions and competition.”
The word miserable is not often an understatement. In Saturday’s case, however, miserable just doesn’t do justice to how cold and wet the conditions were on the field. Rain poured down literally the entire game, winds blew steady out of the west, and the temperature was in the mid 40s.
Save for a couple minutes of injury time, the Hawks starting line up played the entire game without substituting. Delphian had a much deeper team and was able to sub players on a regular basis. With only 31 students attending Horizon this year, the soccer team makes up roughly half of the school’s student body. Delphian, a 2A school from the Willamette Valley, has 246 high school students this year.
The first half was an even battle, with both teams coming within inches of scoring and both teams coming up with big defensive plays. Horizon’s defense, including Jason Borton, Sam Seal, Josh Taylor, Josh Boyden and goalie Cameron Root, played a solid first half, isolating much of the game to the midfield.
Team captains Stephen Stenberg and Jared Nagreen teamed up with David Rovianek and Phillip Stenberg as middies, forming a tough line for the Dragons to penetrate.
The Hawks’ finisher, sophomore forward Kent Ulend, had his work cut out for him against probably the toughest defense Horizon faced all year.
With unpredictable bounces due to a saturated field, one of the biggest challenges for the Hawks throughout the game was judging what the ball was going to do once it hit the ground. Horizon got a lucky break in the first half when a Delphian shot skipped across the front of the Hawks’ goal and bounced off the inside of the far post. Delphian’s defensive break came when a Horizon shot bounced and stuck in the mud under the goalie’s behind.
The inability rotate players, combined with a cold, wet and tired starting lineup, took a toll on Horizon in the second half. Delphian took advantage, gaining momentum and the lead early in the second off a free kick from a foul just outside the penalty box.
The Hawks ran out of steam after the Dragon’s second goal, which came from a defensive slip that left Root in a one-on-one situation with a Delphian forward. The third goal came in similar fashion near the end of the game, and by the final whistle both teams were eager to hustle off the field.
“It was a great season,” Lago said. “We did what we set out to do. I think our greatest victory was beating City Christian 2-0 to make it to the playoffs.”
For Taylor, Nagreen, Seal and Borton, the game marks the end of their high school soccer careers.
“Our seniors stepped up and showed great leadership qualities this year,” said Lago. “Their will to pull our younger kids up is something I haven’t seen out of seniors before.”