A Ticket to Hillsboro Stadium: Boys Soccer Earns Spot in State Final

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  • The La Salle boys soccer team went in for a huddle at the beginning of the game.

  • Freshman Vance Sheffield, who plays as a forward for the team, flipped into the air doing a bicycle kick in an attempt to score the first goal of the game.

  • Freshman Vance Sheffield sprang into the air to try to launch the ball into the goal.

  • Junior Luke Warner kept everyone at bay as he sprung to kick the ball.

  • Senior Aidan O’Brien leaned in to head the ball in order to keep the ball away from a North Salem player.

  • Senior Mizael Harris guarded the ball as he dribbled the ball down the field.

  • The team dashed to the corner of the field and into the air to celebrate the third goal of the game.

  • Senior Luke Bjelland celebrates with his teammates after providing the assist for the third goal of the game.

  • Freshman Vance Sheffield slid through the goalie box after solidifying the score of the game, making the fourth goal for La Salle.

  • Senior Cam Rast hollered in excitement with his fellow teammates after the semifinal game.

  • Juniors Seamus Gwyn and Finbar O’Brien lept with excitement to celebrate the game.

  • The La Salle boys soccer team celebrated by posing for a photo after winning 4-1 against North Salem High School and moving on to the championship game.

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On Tuesday, Nov. 9, the boys varsity soccer team defeated North Salem High School 4-1 in the state semifinals, earning a spot in the state championship game. 

Following a non-traditional season last year, without playoffs and without out-of-league games, this year’s playoffs are giving the team a chance to defend their state championship title from 2019.

Some members of the team feel that the bond between each team member has been vital to their success this season, which has left them with a current record of 15-1-1. “I think the friendship and camaraderie between our teammates helps on and off the field,” said junior Luke Warner, who plays defense for the team.

Many of the boys games have amassed a large student turnout, particularly the recent playoff matches. Fan turnout means “everything” to senior Jeffrey Richter, who plays midfield and defense for the team.

Richter has been a member of the varsity team since his sophomore year, and noted that his experience this year has been particularly special due to his relationships with the underclassmen. “The younger people get along with the upperclassmen and we’re all kind of one family,” he said.

Richter scored one of the team’s four goals during the semifinal match, along with senior Luke Bjelland, senior Mizael Harris, and freshman Vance Sheffield, who has played as a starter in many of the team’s games this season.

With 11 seniors graduating out of the soccer program this year, Richter is hopeful that Sheffield will “take the torch,” and help lead the team in years to come. 

Of the challenges they’ve faced this year, Warner feels that the team has overcome any cockiness they had at the beginning of the season, which is something he said they struggled with at first. “I think we started off the season really confident,” he said. “A little too confident, and I think we have developed a mindset that it takes hard work to actually get where we want to go.”

Warner’s older brother Logan helped to lead the boys team to their state title in 2019. Senior Parker English, whose first year on varsity was the year that the state title was gained, said that “as sophomores, a lot of us starters didn’t get to actually play,” he said. “It feels good that we can come back and then prove that we can do it too.”

Warner said that he and his teammates have all agreed on one thing: winning won’t be easy, but it will be worth the fight. “I think we all have a certain mindset that we want to win a state championship, and we know that it takes a lot of hard work to get there,” he said. 

Richter echoed Warner’s thoughts, and also said that he feels a certain expectation has been set for the younger members of the team. “The seniors were all motivated to get back to the finals, which is what we’ve done,” he said. “And then the underclassmen, they don’t really want to let us down, so we’ve kind of all been working together.”

Senior Mizael Harris, who has been a starter since his freshman year, said that he has a “really great feeling” about going to finals this year. Harris played in the state finals in 2018 when the team fell short against Corvallis, as well as in 2019 when the team won the championship. 

The boys team took the field just an hour after the girls soccer semifinal wrapped, which was won by the girls varsity team after entering double overtime. This will be the first year in over a decade that both the girls and the boys soccer teams are headed to the state finals, which has prompted overwhelming excitement from fans as well as from members of both teams.

“It’s definitely a fun feeling,” Harris said. “Both of us get to celebrate, and hopefully win.” 

Both teams will face off against their respective competitors at Hillsboro Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 13, with the girls game kicking off at 10 a.m. and the boys game beginning at 1 p.m.

Correction: Nov. 12, 2021

A previous version of this article misstated that Vance Sheffield is a junior. He is a freshman, and this has since been corrected.