La Salle girls have plenty of experience
Plus a couple of talented freshmen will bolster their cause
If experience means anything, the La Salle Falcons should figure in the hunt for the Tri-Valley Conference girls soccer title this fall.
The Falcons return 13 experienced players from last years varsity roster, including seven starters.
And theyve added two blue-chip players with Olympic Development experience in freshmen midfielders Bailey Higgins and Keegan Storlie.
The freshmen will most likely start for us this year, said La Salle coach Ryan Cereghino. They are year around soccer players. They have great skills and they are very, very smart soccer players.... I envision them as playmakers for us this season.
Players who started for the Falcons last season who have returned to play for La Salle this fall include: seniors Courtney Crain (midfield), Yesenia Higuera (defense), Joslynn Bigelow (defense) and Sydney Chvilicek (goalkeeper); and juniors Claire Primack (forward), Kathryn Christoferson (forward) and Veronica Horton (midfield).
Crain and Chvilicek are both seeing their third year of starting action this fall.
Crain, Primack, Higuera, Horton and Bigelow all received conference all-star recognition in 2013.
Six other experienced players return from last years Falcon varsity: seniors MKaila Karcsay (forward) and Rachael Gottsch (midfield), juniors Natalie Stone (defense) and Tori Goodman (midfield), and sophomores Talya Holenstein (utility) and Regan Russell (defense).
Junior Grace Foren-Self, a transfer from Gresham, is serving as backup goalkeeper.
Gladstone is the team to beat, said Cereghino. I dont know how many times theyve won league, and they are defending state champions. But Molalla will also be tough. I think it will be between Gladstone, Molalla and us, although we dont want to overlook North Marion. They play very physical and I think they tied us last year.
Cereghino said he expects the TVC to once again be among the top Class 4A girls soccer leagues in the state. While Gladstone last year won its third state title in four seasons, Molalla and La Salle both advanced as far as the state quarterfinals.
The Falcons lost to 2013 Class 3A/2A/1A state champion Oregon Episcopal School 3-1 in this years season opener, played at La Salle on Aug. 29. The score was tied at 1-1 at halftime, with Goodman putting the ball in the net for La Salle on a free kick.
Fatigue got to us in the second half, and we made some mental mistakes, Cereghino said.
The Falcons begin conference play on Thursday, Sept. 19, when they entertain North Marion.
La Salle guys reload
A year ago La Salle Prep came within an overtime loss to Philomath of winning a state championship in boys soccer. In 2012, the Falcons went 16-3-0, dropping a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Warriors in the Class 4A state final, after finishing second to Molalla (13-3-0, 10-0-0) in the Tri-Valley Conference.
Some people may be counting the Falcons out this fall, because theyve graduated their top two offensive players, David Lillie and Dakota Eisel. Lillie last year was TVC co-offensive player of the year, along with Molalla graduate Sergio Maldonado; Eisel was a first-team league all-star selection.
But anyone who overlooks the Falcons this season does so at their own peril. The Falcons had only five seniors on last years 20-player state playoff roster.
Eight players return who either started or saw a considerable amount of playing time last season seniors Brezden Dunnigan (midfield) and Nico Marquez-Stock (forward); juniors Dylan Tran (goalkeeper), Kevin Luyamba (defense), Ian Hamel (defense), James Higgins (midfield) and Duran Herrera (midfield); and sophomore Alex Baasten (midfield).
Tran, Luyamba and Hamel were all second-team conference all-star picks last season.
We need to find some new goal-scorers, said La Salle assistant coach Derek Ray. But our defense should be solid....
We are expecting a couple of [last years] jayvee players that moved up to make an impact, especially Grant Cameron and Ruben Estrada on defense.
Cameron is a senior and Estrada is a junior.
Rounding out this years Falcon varsity roster are: senior Jordan Luyamba (defense); juniors Tanner Latham (midfield), Greg Manzano (forward), Art Tani (midfield) and Marcus Roberts (forward); sophomore Nick Griffin (forward); and freshman Sean Hamel (defense).
Ray picks North Marion, which has a host of players returning, as the preseason favorite to win conference. He said he also expects Madras to field a strong team.
I would not be surprised if a team from our conference made the finals [again] this year, Ray said.
La Salle has competed in a league that has had teams in the state final in 10 of the last 11 years. Molalla was state champion in 2011 and the Indians lost to Philomath 1-0 in last years quarterfinals. La Salle was state champion in 2009; Gladstone was a state finalists in 2007 and 2008.
The Falcons stumbled in this years season opener, losing to 2012 Class 3A/2A/1A state finalist Oregon Episcopal 1-0 in an Aug. 29 game at OES.
OES has a great team this year, said Ray. They played well and put away one of their chances. We had some chances as well, but failed to find the back of the net.
La Salle bounced back on Sept. 5, defeating Astoria 3-0. Baasten scored twice and Griffin added a third tally in the Falcon victory.
The Falcons host Putnam at 6:30 p.m. tonight in their final tuneup for the conference season. Their conference opener is set for North Marion on Sept. 19.