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March 1, 2024

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Hockinson boys soccer program is buzzing with confidence

With 2-1 comeback win over Hudson’s Bay, Hawks maintain hold on second place in 2A GSHL

By , Columbian staff writer
Published:
7 Photos
Hockinson’s Tristan Maldonado, left, leaps to head a ball toward a teammate in a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer game against Hudson’s Bay on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at Hudson’s Bay High School.
Hockinson’s Tristan Maldonado, left, leaps to head a ball toward a teammate in a 2A Greater St. Helens League boys soccer game against Hudson’s Bay on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at Hudson’s Bay High School. (Will Denner/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A curse has been lifted for Teagan Cabebe and the Hockinson boys soccer team.

The Hawks’ senior scored two goals in the span of three minutes midway through the second half Wednesday against Hudson’s Bay, flipping a 1-0 Eagles halftime lead into an eventual 2-1 Hockinson win.

The scoring barrage happened on the same Hudson’s Bay High School field where Cabebe estimated missing upwards of 10 shots on goal in a game last season. His teammates were quick to remind him after Wednesday’s win.

“Last year it didn’t go very well when I played on this field,” Cabebe said. “I brought it back this year and we called it the Bay curse, so I broke the curse this year.”

From one year to the next, similar improvements can be said of the Hawks’ program as a whole. They were on the cusp of cracking into the 2A GSHL top four and reaching the District 4 playoffs in 2022, but were ultimately on the outside looking in at the end of the season.

This season, a program that struggled to piece together a full varsity roster just two years ago now has more than 30 players, including a large group of freshmen, 17 to be exact, with seven on the Hawks’ varsity roster. That was enough to add a JV team for the first time under third-year head coach Tony Ayala.

“We like to think that soccer is starting to become relevant at Hockinson,” Ayala said. “Kids are getting excited about the sport.”

Along with growing participation numbers, the Hawks’ confidence has blossomed.

Hockinson (9-2-1, 9-2) currently sits in second place out of nine teams in the 2A GSHL standings. The Hawks won five of their first games of the season while outscoring opponents 16-2. They also hung tough against perennial power Columbia River, which finished third at last year’s Class 2A state tournament, before giving up a pair of second-half goals in a 3-1 defeat on March 28.

“Last year we would think that we were going to beat teams and then we just choked,” Cabebe said. “But this year, we’ve had a lot of freshmen that came in and really performed well.”

Goal-scoring opportunities dried up in its two most recent games, including a 2-1 loss to Washougal in a penalty kick shootout on Monday.

The trend carried over into the first half Wednesday, when, despite having a clear leg up in possession against Hudson’s Bay, Hockinson trailed 1-0 at halftime after the Eagles struck first on a Cristian Leonzo goal.

The Hawks turned to Cabebe to break their drought — and his own jinx. The versatile senior, who’s listed as a center back but is also a capable scorer, struck first in the 52nd minute on a second effort, assisted by freshman Xavier Ayala, after his initial attempt bounced off the post. Moments later, Cabebe found the back of the net again on an assist from sophomore Alonzo Flores Barajas.

“We started off really strong, we’re scoring a bunch of goals, and for whatever reason, we’ve been playing really well but the goals just haven’t been coming the last couple games,” Tony Ayala said. “We just knew if we could just get one in the back of the net, maybe two, maybe three — because we’ve got a dynamic team. When the goals start flowing, then we start picking up some momentum.”

With five regular season games remaining, Hockinson has put itself in a good position to play in the postseason, starting with the district playoffs. But Hawks will tell you they have an even bigger goal in mind: reaching the 2A state tournament for the first time since 2015.

“We’ve been winning games and it’s nice to get some wins under our belt, for a program that’s kind of struggled for a long time,” Ayala said.

“It’s been a fun season and we just want to keep building.”

HOCKINSON 2, HUDSON’S BAY 1

Hockinson

Goals (assists) —  Teagan Cabebe (Xavier Ayala), Cabebe (Alonzo Flores Barajas). Goalkeeper saves — Gianni Ionashku 3. Match standout — Teagan Cabebe.

Hudson’s Bay

Goal (assist) — Cristian Leonzo (unassisted). Goalkeeper saves — Joseph Roeper 8. Match standout — Angel Villalobos.

Halftime — Hudson’s Bay 1-0.

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