WOODLAND — The Woodland boys soccer team made history Saturday afternoon winning its first-ever home playoff game.
The Beavers feel they’re just getting started after their 1-0 win over Tumwater at Beaver Stadium to open the Southwest 2A District tournament in what’s already been a magical season that includes a school-record 13 wins and now one win away from earning a Class 2A state berth.
“This is great,” senior midfielder Brennan Lamoreaux said. “Seeing the growth of the team, my freshman year we won one league game (and went 3-13 overall) to second in league only losing,
“And keep it going in the future.”
Lamoreaux is Woodland’s career assists leader, and the midfielder’s goal in the 36th minute against the Thunderbirds (8-5-3) proved to be the difference to send the Beavers the district semifinal. He nearly added a second goal three minutes later when his shot from 10 yards out hit the top of the crossbar.
Woodland faces Black Hills (15-2), champion of the 2A Evergreen Conference, on Tuesday at Tumwater District Stadium in the winner-to-state match. The Wolves beat R.A. Long 4-3 (4-2 penalty kicks). Woodland’s last state appearance came in 2002.
Not only is Woodland full of accomplishments, such as a runner-up 2A Greater St. Helens League finish and hosting its first-ever playoff game, but the program’s been on a steady upward climb in recent years.
And it wasn’t long ago when Woodland boys soccer had dark times.
In 2009, Woodland didn’t have enough players to field a roster, so school administrators canceled the boys soccer season. The following year, athletic director Paul Huddleston’s first year at the school, soccer returned with a varsity-only team that went 0-16.
Sophomore Aidan Thrall remembers some of those dark times as a middle school student watching the program he’d later help spearhead into a playoff winner.
“It was painful to watch,” Thrall said, later adding “They’re just going to grow this team.”
Thrall is one of three ex-Timbers Academy players on Woodland’s roster and is more than half of the starting lineup that currently plays club soccer.
Players with a higher level of competition outside of the high school season has only boosted the program as a whole, said head coach Bryan Vogel. Its junior varsity team even fields a number of club players, something Vogel’s never had previously.
“When you’re bottom ends comes up,” Vogel said, “your top ends goes even higher.”