The streaks keep growing for Columbia River boys soccer. With a 3-0 win over Woodland in the 2A district championship Thursday at Chieftain Stadium, River made it 42 straight matches unbeaten.
In the past 20 games, the Chieftains have scored at least two goals. It’s a third straight district championship.
But the only streak that matters to the Chieftains (18-0-1) is the one that can’t be labeled such just yet. A second straight state title is now four matches away.
“That’s what really matters to all of us,” junior Julian Villa-Salas said.
Villa-Salas was a big part of Thursday’s victory, as the short in stature forward rose up over a Woodland (12-4-2) defender to meet a Maksim Yurichko corner kick in the 31st minute. He flicked it toward Woodland goalkeeper Treyson Thrall, who deflected the ball into the net, putting the Chieftains up 1-0 at the half.
The set piece score was another tally off a dead ball, and again proves the strength of the Chieftains.
“We practice a ridiculous amount, and the guys really believe in it,” River coach Filly Afenegus said of set pieces. “Over the last four years, it’s really served us well.”
Sure enough, the Chieftains scored on two more set pieces in the second half. The first came on a throw-in following Thrall’s denial of Yurichko from the penalty spot. The throw produced a scramble in the box and River junior Jake Connop flushed it home to make it 2-0 in the 68th minute.
Two minutes later, Connop converted a penalty kick to produce the final score line.
“We’re very happy to get the three-peat,” Connop said. “Now we just try to get the second one for state.”
River will host the loser of Foss and Franklin-Pierce, who play Saturday, in the first round. Woodland will travel to the loser between Sequim and Fife, who also play Saturday, in search of the program’s first state victory. It is the team’s third trip. The Beavers lost 3-1 to Highline in the first round last season.
“I imagine (the Chieftains) are going to be in the final again, and that’s our dream,” Woodland coach Bryan Vogel said. “Let’s try to get there and play them again and give our best shot at it.”
The Beavers played Thursday without star midfielder Aidan Thrall, who strained his medial collateral ligament making a tackle in a 3-2 win over Tumwater. Despite his absence, the Beavers played well in the midfield and Gaige Pilot was particularly impressive with a couple of strong chances.
“You don’t want injuries but sometimes it helps guys step up,” Vogel said. “It allowed some other guys the ability to get minutes in spots that will hopefully help us in the next round.”