By René Ferrán
With only six weeks of competition and no state championship events, it won’t be a normal high school sports season. Nevertheless, we examine the top returning players and teams to watch in Class 3A/2A/1A boys soccer.
Returning all-state players
First team: FJonny McCoy, Sr., Cascade Christian; D James Lawliss, Sr., Oregon Episcopal; M Jake Beaman, Jr., Brookings-Harbor; GK Juan Hernandez, Sr., Brookings-Harbor.
Second team: F Gerardo Lopez, Sr., Riverside; M Kai Gamboa, Sr., Catlin Gabel; M Fabian Villa, Jr., Brookings-Harbor; M Koby Sewall, Sr., Umpqua Valley Christian; GK Bowen Blair, Sr., Catlin Gabel.
Honorable mention: F Jefri Coria, Sr., Umatilla; M William Calderon, Sr., Taft; M Jose Flores, Sr., Taft; M Nathan Sternenberg, Sr., St. Mary’s; D Justin Fairbanks, Sr., Cascade Christian; D Cristian Alaniz, Sr., Umatilla; GK Seby Tremblay, Sr., Catlin Gabel; GK Jayden Pratt, Jr., Creswell.
Teams to watch
The Bruins scored 124 goals last season, second-most of any 3A/2A/1A school, and they return their second-leading scorer in Villa (23 goals, 26 assists) and Beaman, a facilitating defensive midfielder (five goals, 13 assists), from a squad that went 17-1, losing to Oregon Episcopal in the semifinals. Also back are senior M/F Rylan Bruce (eight goals, 13 assists) and GK Juan Hernandez (12 shutouts, 0.35 goals against average).
The Eagles have won back-to-back championships and three of the past four, outscoring opponents 113-6 en route to their latest title. Blair, a Colorado College signee, and Tremblay shared time in net, combining on 14 shutouts. Catlin Gabel will need to replace 3A/2A/1A player of the year Spud Ward (19 goals, 13 assists), but the Eagles return top-scoring junior Felipe Rueda (32 goals, 13 assists) and seniors Jed Whalen-Stewart (17 goals, 11 assists) and Cai Fernandez-Powell.
The Aardvarks have lost in the final three times (2015, 2018, 2019) since winning their last state title in 2014. They graduated top scorer Kennedy Balandi (22 goals) and two all-state first-teamers in Mason Lee and Jonah Song, but they bring back top defender Lawliss and junior Connor Mansfield (15 goals, nine assists).
The Pirates last season scored a 3A/2A/1A-leading 134 goals and pushed Oregon Episcopal to overtime in a quarterfinal loss. They graduated East Oregonian All-Area player of the year Edwin Pacheco (eight goals, 12 assists) on defense but bring back Lopez up front along with second-team all-league junior M Jose Napoles and senior D Ricky Davila.
The Tigers, like Brookings-Harbor, went unbeaten all the way to their first semifinal appearance last season before falling to Catlin Gabel. They graduated district player of the year Edson Fuentes but bring back all-state midfielders Calderon and Flores as well as all-league senior D Alex Del Valle and junior GK Sam Cortes among seven starters returning.