HOCKINSON — A rough, muddy home field turned the Hockinson High School boys soccer team nomadic this spring.
The Hawks have practiced in the wee hours of the morning. They have practiced on grass and on artificial turf. They have trained at middle schools and at indoor soccer facilities, a vagabond existence that has helped Hockinson go places no previous Hawks soccer team has experienced.
Friday night at Sumner High School, the Hawks experience another new venue in their first Class 2A state semifinal appearance. Hockinson plays Fife at 8 p.m. The winner advances to Saturday’s 4 p.m. title match.
“It means a lot to me,” senior co-captain Jarren Parthemer said about being part of the first Hockinson boys soccer team to reach the state playoffs. “This is my last season playing soccer, which I started playing when I was 5. So this is a great way to go out.”
Over the last few seasons, the Hawks have exited the playoffs at the district level — three times losing playoff matches to Aberdeen. This spring the Hawks flew to the 2A Greater St. Helens League title, then lost to Centralia in the district playoffs to put their state dreams at risk.
“It was so emotional” after the Centralia loss, co-captain Cotter Hamilton said. “None of us wanted it to end without going to state.”
To qualify, Hockinson had to beat Tumwater, then get past — who else — Aberdeen. That match was decided in soccer’s cruel penalty-kick tiebreaker.
“That was a pretty scary situation,” co-captain Langdon Roscoe said. “That walk (to the PK spot) feels like forever.”
Roscoe, Parthemer, Hamilton, Shamele Battan and Shawn Marion converted PKs in the six-round tiebreaker. Battan made two stops in goal, on the first and sixth Aberdeen attempts, to secure Hockinson’s first state-tournament berth.
“To finally beat Aberdeen the way that we did gave us the belief that we could really do something in state,” Parthemer said.
Hockinson won its first state playoff game on May 17, defeating Evergreen of Seattle, and then held off Archbishop Murphy for a quarterfinal victory last Saturday in Everett.
On the field, Hockinson’s mix of club soccer veterans and committed classmates has melded into a unit that takes advantage of its speed up front, its ball skills all over the field, and a strong goalkeeper.
Being forced to practice at odd times and at a variety of locations has strengthened the bond and the resiliency of the team, players said.
“I think it helps us be more prepared for different circumstances,” Hamilton said.
This week the Hawks have practiced at 6 a.m., because that was the only time the turf field at Battle Ground District Stadium was available.
“It’s been a challenge,” coach Vic Oenning said.
The early practice sessions are surprisingly effective, according to the participants.
“I actually like it,” Hamilton said. “I think it’s more of a focused practice because we only have a limited amount of time.”
With one last chance to make history for Hockinson soccer, the seniors on this team embraced sharing of responsibilities, of abilities, and of the soccer ball. The product is a team that is flexible enough to handle a variety of challenges. It’s a squad that has been decisive on defense, savvy and gritty in midfield, and clever in using its speed on the attack.
“It’s a very unique team,” Roscoe said. “I’ve never played on a team with the personality, the chemistry and the will to win that we have.
“To be here right now, and to have work so hard to earn this position, the feeling is unexplainable.