Thursday, September 24, 2020
Sept. 24, 2020

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River’s Connop makes most of his shots

Forward seals Chieftains 2-0 win over Woodland

By , Columbian sports reporter
11 Photos
Coumbia River’s Aaron Espinosa (9) plays the ball in front of Woodland’s Anthony Clifford (12).
Coumbia River’s Aaron Espinosa (9) plays the ball in front of Woodland’s Anthony Clifford (12). Joshua Hart/The Columbian Photo Gallery

WOODLAND — For 79 minutes and 45 seconds, Woodland boys soccer made life difficult on Columbia River junior forward Jake Connop. What he did with the other 15 seconds was nothing short of brilliant.

On a lofted free kick from Julian Villa-Salas in the 69th minute, Connop saw his moment.

He rose into the air, found the ball and flicked his head toward the goal. The ball floated over the outstretched Treyson Thrall and slipped under the crossbar to ice the game in the Chieftains’ 2-0 2A Greater St. Helens League win Friday.

“Jake is very clinical,” River coach Filly Afenegus said. “He only needs one or two chances to bury it. I understand it was a little difficult for him to get in the game because they were keying on him … but that was great technique.”

The goal sealed the 34th win of Columbia River’s unbeaten streak and put the Chieftains (11-0-1, 8-0 2A GSHL) six points clear of the rest of the league with four games to play.

Maksum Yurichko slotted home a penalty kick after Ryan Brown was taken down in the penalty area in the 10th minute.

The Chieftains haven’t lost a game since May 16, 2017 — a 2-1 state defeat to Highline. They have yet to lose a league game since dropping down to 2A three years ago.

“We have a goal in mind,” Connop said. “We lost a lot of seniors so people don’t think we’re as good but we want to show them we are as good, and maybe even better. We’re going to try to get to state and win it.”

Woodland coach Bryan Vogel thinks the Chieftains have a good shot. His squad has given River a better fight than almost anybody this season. The reward has been 4-0 and 2-0 defeats, and six of the team’s seven allowed goals this season.

“River has the makings to be in that state title game again,” Vogel said. “So if we can go toe to toe with them, we can go toe to toe with anybody.”

It wasn’t a bad effort for the Beavers (8-2-2, 6-2), who found their legs and controlled the first 15 minutes of the second half Friday.

Aidan Thrall ripped a free kick in the 50th minute that nearly got by River keeper Miles Miranda, who finished with four saves in the shutout.

Jackson Finn’s bicycle kick shot on target in the 74th minute added another moment of excitement for a team the Chieftains expect to meet in the district championship again.

“Every time we play against them it’s hard,” Connop said. “But that’s what we need. We need a little bit of a challenge.”

The Chieftains will look to extend their unbeaten streak to 36 on Tuesday against R.A. Long. Woodland will recompose without star sophomore Jesse Thrall, who received his second red card of the season and will sit at least one game. The Beavers host Mark Morris on Thursday.