Saturday, June 25, 2022
June 25, 2022

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Columbia River soccer rolls into 2A semifinals

Chieftains trounce Franklin Pierce 4-1

By , Columbian sports reporter

Columbia River’s boys soccer team has played this season with one star above the emblem emblazoned across the players’ chests.

The Chieftains are desperate to add another signifier of the program’s state championships.

That was abundantly clear in a 4-1 trouncing of Franklin Pierce in the 2A State quarterfinals Saturday at Chieftain Stadium. Jake Connop scored twice and added an assist and Aaron Espinosa scored and had two helping hands.

“I think they knew what was at stake,” coach Filly Afenegus said. “They wanted to get back to the state semifinals and that was the driving force.”

The Chieftains (20-0-1) peppered the Cardinals’ defense with dangerous through balls in the first half. The most spectacular deliveries resulted in goals.

In the 20th minute, Espinosa slotted a pass to Sideris Kosaris, who slid it home for a 1-0 advantage.

7 Photos
Columbia River's Jake Connop, left, heads in the Chieftains' second goal over Franklin Pierce goalkeeper Oscar Rosas and defender Brandon Hernandez in a 2A State quarterfinal Saturday at Chieftain Stadium. Columbia River won 4-1.
Gallery: Columbia River boys soccer 2A state quarterfinal Photo Gallery

“Aaron made a good penetrating run and I saw the opportunity to run in behind,” Kosaris said. “The ball fell perfectly for me and I just put it away.”

Six minutes later, Greer Snellman popped a ball in between the Franklin Pierce (16-6-1) goalkeeper and the charging Connop. That’s not a race River’s junior striker often loses. And he didn’t Saturday, as Connop got his head to the ball first and bounced it into the net for a 2-0 halftime advantage.

For Connop, it was redemption from a season cut short two years ago, when the Chieftains lost 4-3 to Highline in the first round.

“We talked a lot about that Highline game all week,” Connop said. “I didn’t want to feel that way again. In that game, I missed opportunities and had a goal taken away. This year, I wasn’t going to let that happen.”

Connop served a beautiful through ball to Espinosa, who drove home a 3-0 advantage shortly after the break and the semifinal bid was all but sealed.

“It’s just timing,” Afenegus said of the three superb assists. “It’s a pattern we’ve practiced over and over and over, and have drilled in them. They look for certain cues and when they see it, they go. The midfielders did a good job picking the pass out.”

Franklin Pierce scraped one back in the 44th minute, but Connop answered with a poke-in from an Espinosa pass in the 78th minute to add to the tally.

The Chieftains, who are riding a 44-game unbeaten streak, take on Fife in the state semifinals at 8 p.m. Friday at Sunset Chev Stadium in Sumner.

Columbian sports reporter

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