Boys Varsity Soccer Hopes to Defend Their Title as State Champions


John Pham

Falcons look to keep progressing towards a top playoff spot, with a current league lead and a 9-1-1 record.

Will Ceballos, Staff Reporter

The La Salle’s boys varsity soccer team has gained recognition from all over the state, making the last two 5A state championship games, and winning one in 2019. 

However, last year’s shortened spring season offered no playoff opportunity, making this year’s playoffs all the more important. 

“I think we can win another state championship for sure,” said junior and midfielder Quentin Strange, who has been on the varsity team since his freshman year. 

But that’s easier said than done given the challenges of this year — not only with COVID-19 related challenges, but the departure of Head Coach Seth Altshuler in 2020 was especially difficult for some of the team’s members.

“He really had an impact on every single player,” senior Mizael Harris said, who plays as a forward for the team. 

After one new head coach shuffled in and out of the program in 2020, a new head coach, Monty Hawkins, took the reins this fall. 

According to junior Finbar O’Brien, who plays as a defender for the team, Hawkins has quickly left a positive imprint on the program this year. “He creates a good environment, a competitive environment, and everyone likes him and everyone likes to work hard for him,” O’Brien said.

Although the team has experienced several coaching changes and setbacks from the pandemic, the team has not let these challenges affect their performance on the field, posting a record of ten wins, one loss, and one draw.

The 2019 title match against their rival Wilsonville High School featured two goals from Harris, who was just a sophomore at the time, and was a well-earned victory to cap off an undefeated season.

“You could definitely tell that each team wanted it really badly,” Strange said. “You could see all of the emotion and how much everyone cared about the game.”

After the team suffered a loss in the state championship game to Corvallis High School in 2018, Harris recalls, “I remember before the game, a lot of people were really nervous, since it was their first time being [at a state championship].”

But the following year in 2019, the group entered the state championship with a different type of composure.

“Everybody was relaxed and it was a lot easier for us to focus and play as a team,” Harris said, “I think that was really what helped us win.”

Fast-forwarding to the current season, the Falcons are ranked first in the 5A OSAA state rankings, only taking one loss and one draw. 

Despite the team’s success thus far, Strange said they need to proceed with humility.

“I think our biggest obstacle would just be becoming overconfident with ourselves,” he said. “We just need to respect every opponent who steps on the field.”

Two of Harris’ senior teammates stand out to him, in regards to keeping the team’s dynamic strong. “Right now, Parker [English] and Aidan [O’Brien] are leading us,” Harris said. “I think just having them in there really helps us focus and stay organized.”

As the team hopes to claim home-field advantage for the playoffs, they continue to stay on the right track with an important 1-0 away victory against the #2 team in the state. They beat Willamette High School last Thursday, Oct. 14, maintaining the Falcons’ #1 state ranking in 5A. Sophomore midfielder Kevin Serrano-Maldanado scored the lone goal for the Falcons. 

Reflecting on the game versus Willamette, O’Brien said, “We played really well defensively and our midfield controlled the game, we controlled the tempo.”

Looking at the team’s final obstacles to win a state championship, they have two more league games, before starting a hopeful playoff run into November. 

When asked if he believes the team can overcome the obstacles and bring another state championship banner to the Brick Oven, Harris answered, “Obviously.”