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Friday, June 2, 2023
June 2, 2023

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Harris’ 10th hat trick helps lead Columbia River boys soccer into 2A state semifinals

Rapids dispatch Othello 3-0 to improve to 22-0

By , Columbian staff writer

Hats and Alex Harris go hand-in-hand for Columbia River High boys soccer.

The junior striker has totaled 10 hat tricks — three goals in a game — this season.

But what made Saturday’s trio of goals so special in the Rapids’ 3-0 2A state quarterfinal victory over Othello?

It’s all about the playoff atmosphere, he said.

“It’s a whole different experience,” Harris said. “Just mentally going into these games, the intensity is so much higher.

“When I score in these games, it means so much more to me. Especially when we’re playing to go to the next round.”

And that next round for the Rapids is the state semifinals next weekend at Tumwater District Stadium where they’ll face Burlington-Edison at 6 p.m. Friday. Burlington-Edison topped Tumwater in a shootout in their quarterfinal.

It’s the third time in program history Columbia River has qualified for the state semifinals in boys soccer — and all have come over the past three WIAA state tournaments (2018, 2019, none in 2020 or 2021 because of the pandemic).

Saturday at Kiggins Bowl, Harris’ scored goals in the fourth, 45th and 58th minutes to add to his own single-season program record mark. He now has 49 in 22 games.

At 22-0, River continues its unblemished record as one of the final four 2A teams remaining (Burlington-Edison, Squalicum, Sammamish). In fact, the last time River entered the state semifinals with a perfect record, it won the 2018 title on a perfect 23-0 season.

Cameron Harris made two saves in goal Saturday for River, which now has 19 shutouts in 22 games. Head coach Filomon Afenegus said he puts this year’s backline atop the Mount Rushmores of River defenses.

And for good reason. Not just because of conceding three goals all season, but how the players anchoring the backline work collectively.

It rang true Saturday against a Huskies (14-5-1) team that Afenegus said pushed River harder than any opponent this season. Harris’ early goal held up for a 1-0 lead at halftime before River pushed tempo and dominated possession in the opening 15 minutes of the second half. That’s when Harris’ final two goals came 13 minutes apart for the 3-0 advantage.

“They gave us a challenge,” senior defender Rosando Gil said. “It was really tough and tiring, especially with the sun beaming. They put up a battle and I think we played well and played our game.”