Defender isn’t a position of glamor on a soccer team.
But it is an impact position, which is just fine with Ana Delgadillo.
“I wasn’t ever a real creative player. I liked scoring goals, but I liked the physical part of the game better,” she said. “I really like playing defense. I really like being able to see the whole field and help my teammates know when there is an open pass and where they should go with the ball.”
A central defender at Columbia River, Delgadillo’s savvy helped the Chieftains to a second consecutive unbeaten regular season. When their remarkable run ended with a loss to Liberty of Issaquah in the first round of the state tournament — ending the pursuit of a second consecutive state championship — Delgadillo’s experience helped her to find perspective.
“After reflecting on the season for a few days, I realized that game doesn’t define the season,” she said. “It was a good season. We accomplished so much the last two years and one game doesn’t diminish that.”
The two goals Liberty scored on Nov. 13 at Kiggins Bowl were the only goals scored against Columbia River this season. That’s right. Degadillo played a key role in that record, according to Chieftains coach Filomon Afenegus.
“Not getting any goals scored on us during the season is what I’ll remember most,” Delgadillo said. “And the team atmosphere. I was excited to go to every practice. A lot of us played together for a long time, and the new girls bought into the philosophy from the start.”
The result was a team that outscored its opponents 85-2 this season.
Ana has been coached by her father, Esteban, in club soccer for all but one season since she was 10 years old. At Columbia River, she said coach Filomon Afenegus emphasizes serving others and embracing challenges as opportunities.
The next soccer opportunity for Delgadillo will come playing at Concordia University in Portland, a program that recently won the NAIA national title.
Delgadillo has been a defender as long as she can remember. Sure, she enjoys scoring goals — including seven this season. But she wouldn’t trade the physical nature of playing defense.
Slide tackling is one of Delgadillo’s favorite parts of the game, a skill more useful to defenders than to attackers.
If things are going well, as they did for the Chieftains this fall, a central defender doesn’t touch the ball very often. But Delgadillo said the non-stop flow of a soccer game means there are continuous challenges.
“It’s really competitive and I’m a competitive person,” Delgadillo said.
Player of the year
*ANA DELGADILLO, SR., DEF., COLUMBIA RIVER
A central defender, Delgadillo was a four-year starter for the Chieftains. She anchored a defense that allowed only two goals this season — and only seven over the last two seasons. She also scored seven goals this season. After basketball and track and field as a River senior, she plans to play soccer at Concordia University.
Rest of All-Region team
MILLA BENEDETTI, SR., FWD, MOUNTAIN VIEW: The 3A GSHL offensive player of the year, she had 14 goals and five assists for the Thunder, and was on the all-league first team for the second time.
*MADISON REYNOLDS, SR., FWD, COLUMBIA RIVER: The 2012 Columbian All-Region player of the year, she scored 13 goals and added five assists despite missing two games with an injury.
TARYN RIES, FR., FWD, RIDGEFIELD: Ries had an immediate impact, scoring 20 goals and assisting on nine in her first high school season. Coach Robby Trimbo praised her work rate with and without the ball.
*RYLEE SEEKINS, SO., FWD, HOCKINSON: 2A GSHL co-offensive player of the year, scored 23 goals and had 10 assists. She scored all four goals in a district playoff win that qualified Hockinson for state.
HEIDI FRONK, JR., MID, KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN: A central midfielder who has played varsity soccer since eighth grade, Fronk was the Trico League player of the year who generated most of the offense for the Knights.
MELISSA FOSTER, SR., MID, UNION: Scored seven goals and has two assists. Her mental toughness and her energy were keys to Union’s success according to coach Kelcey Burris.
ANYSSA DEVERA, SO., MID, CAMAS: Playing central midfield, DeVera was an all-around contributor for the Papermakers with nine goals and 10 assists. She also made 49 tackles.
CHARLENE BURGER, SR., MID, COLUMBIA RIVER: Central midfielder was instrumental in Chieftains’ attack with six goals and 11 assists. She plans to play college soccer at the University of Montana.
*MADDIE SJOTHUN, SR., DEF, UNION: A four-year starter, scored a team-high nine goals and added two assists while playing defense and in the defensive midfield. Was the Titans most consistent player according to Coach Kelcey Burris.
*EMILY DOBBIN, SR., DEF., SKYVIEW: A key contributor to the Storm’s state semifinal team in 2011, she assumed a leadership role as a junior and senior. Will play softball in college at Kent State.
*MARIE MATTHEWS, JR., GK, CAMAS: Made 59 saves and posted 17 shutouts in her first season as the starter for a Camas team with an inexperienced defense.
Note *–denotes that player was selected by The Columbian, coaches vote and fans vote