Last season’s district championship was about getting revenge on the road. This spring, the Columbia River boys soccer team wanted to hoist the championship trophy on its home field.
Mission accomplished for the Rapids.
River won its second consecutive Class 2A District 4 championship (fifth overall since 2017) in a 3-0 triumph against Aberdeen (17-1) on Thursday before a full crowd at John O’Rourke Field.
A matchup of two undefeated teams had the makings of a back and forth battle. Instead, the Rapids turned the game into a goal-scoring parade in the opening 12 minutes.
The run started less than 30 seconds after kickoff when Hunter Cunningham sent a long pass over the top of Aberdeen’s defense to Alex Harris, who put through a goal past the Bobcats’ keeper.
“Unreal,” River coach Matt Newman said.
Newman called the start a testament to a team that was locked in leading up to the game, from film study and practice one day prior to the pre-game warm-up on the field.
“We preach go out early, go hard early,” Harris said. “All of the stuff we do is toward working and putting the energy in early in the game, because that’s usually when teams are sluggish or caught off guard early. … It worked for us today.”
After the goal, multiple River players could be heard imploring each other not to stop and keep their intensity up. Their discipline not to let off the gas pedal paid off.
Tyler Brown scored the Rapids’ second goal in the 10th minute following a Harris throw-in to the far post. Two minutes later, Harris added his second goal in the 12th minute assisted by Ryland Perron.
“It feels good to start off quick because it boosts your energy throughout the whole game,” Brown said. “Getting the lead right away, you want to go get another and keep it going.”
The score stood for the remaining 68 minutes thanks to goalkeeper Cameron Harris and River’s defense, which have only allowed six goals this season.
Much like last year, when they celebrated a district title with a 3-0 win at Tumwater, the Rapids move on to next week’s Class 2A state tournament with a perfect 20-0 record and have a very convincing case to be the No. 1 seed.
Last season, they suffered their only defeat of the season in a state semifinal loss to Burlington-Edison. The key this time around, players and coaches say, is to keep up the intensity and not let up.
In other words, a performance like Thursday.
“If they can play like they did today and do that against even tougher teams … the sky’s the limit for these boys,” Newman said. “I’m really excited to see what kind of self-motivation they’re going to provide for each other and be able to push and hopefully make a long run.”
Columbia River 3, Aberdeen 0
Goalkeeper saves — Antonio Granados 7.
Goals — Alex Harrris (Hunter Cunningham), Tyler Brown (Harris), Harris (Ryland Perron). Goalkeeper saves — Cameron Harris 3
Halftime — 3-0 Columbia River