The Columbia River boys soccer team began the postseason in the same way it ended the regular-season: posting a shutout.
The Chieftains, the reigning 2A district champions, topped Washougal, 6-0, in Saturday’s first-round district match for its fifth straight shutout and 12th of the season.
Offensively, they notched four goals by the 25-minute mark of the first half to advance to Tuesday’s winner-to-state district semifinals hosting Ridgefield.
“We came out really intense,” sophomore Marc Miranda said. “We knew we couldn’t have any letdowns in this game. That showed in the start, and we’re hoping to keep that up in the playoffs.”
River had different goal scorers for all its goals, including Jacob Warthen and Conner Brower in the opening 13 minutes.
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That displays not only the Chieftains’ balance, but also their depth across the board, Miranda said, whose first goal of the season came in the final two minutes on a penalty kick.
At the 55-minute mark, Miranda was one of nine substitutions at once made by head coach Filly Afenegus to get the less experienced varsity players and recent junior varsity call-ups meaningful minutes in postseason action for the rest of Saturday’s match at Kiggins Bowl.
Miranda has started twice this season, and also played the final five minutes of the first half when River led 4-0.
Playing with a new crop of players made for good camaraderie, but also that depth bodes well as the postseason progresses, senior Alex Eiken said.
“It’s insane how much depth we have at every position,” Eiken said. “If anyone gets hurt, we’re secure.”
A week ago in regular-season finale shutout of Washougal, Eiken scored his first varsity goal. Like Miranda, it came in the final minutes on a penalty kick.
One year removed from a 1-15 season, Washougal (5-13-1) reached the district tournament by winning its play-in game, 4-1, over Centralia.
While head coach John Tyger said his team doesn’t fear any team in the league, he believes River is the team to beat in all of Class 2A, and calls the Chieftains one of the state’s top teams stretching all classifications with its size, skillset and experience.
“We’d have to play our best to be in a situation to win a game like this, and that wasn’t to be in this case,” said Tyger, whose team lost to River in the regular-season 2-0 and 5-0.
The Panthers’ season isn’t over. They face Aberdeen, which lost in a shootout to Ridgefield in its first-round game, in a consolation match Tuesday on the road.
Tyger even gave his players a homework assignment before leaving Kiggins Bowl on identifying what to improve on team-wise before Tuesday.
“It allows us an opportunity to look at individual things to improve on,” he said.